Fiction On Odyssey: A Day In The Life Of A Scops Owl

Fiction On Odyssey: A Day In The Life Of A Scops Owl

Within the nest slept a beautiful owl with fluffy feathers that covered its body.

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A fictional (but fairly accurate) short story about a day in the life of a Northern White-Faced Scops Owl.

A Day In The Life Of A Scops Owl

Crickets chirped loudly throughout the soft brush of the savannah. Hidden in the brush, but sat on a low branch in a tamboti tree was a messy nest that had been abandoned long before by the bird that had built it. A new resident had begun to live there. Within the nest slept a beautiful owl with fluffy feathers that covered its body. The bird had feathery tufts that stood up and looked quite a bit like the ears of a cat and a snow white face lined with black war paint.

The rest of its body was mostly gray with white and pale gray under-feathers. The back of its body was marked with thin, black lines. Its beak was curved and a very light shade of yellow with soft, white whiskers sticking out around it. The owl was fairly short and round, so much so that it almost looked like an oval. This particular owl was slightly larger than other owls of her species, which was the only thing that marked it as a female Northern White-Faced Scops Owl.

Bright orange eyes opened slowly and the owl's ear tufts stood straight up to show that she was alert. Her head turned every which way and her eyes scanned the distance for any sign of a predator. When she saw no danger her ear tufts relaxed slightly and she turned to look at the ground below her nest. She could see that a little ways away was a small mouse scurrying around to find a late meal. She could easily swoop in and the mouse wouldn't stand a chance, but…. Scops owls were lazy.

She'd wait. The mouse would come to her eventually-- which it did. As soon as the mouse was right below her nest her wings spread and she brought her clawed feet up as she dropped onto the mouse. He wings silently moved up and down to keep her from landing too hard on the ground. The mouse had never expected her. She had made no noise until she hit the ground and crushed the mouse in her talons. With that, she had her meal and flew back up into her tree.

She had flown to a branch higher than the one that her stolen nest resided on. Her big, orange orbs scanned the distance for any sign of danger or her mate. When she saw nothing she began to call for him with a high and weak, "po-prooh~" She repeated her call multiple times. After each call, she waited a few seconds to see if her call would be returned. A soft noise, almost like a cat's purr emits from the owl. Her eyes are narrowed and her feathers puff out to make her annoyance clear.

When it becomes obvious that her mate will not be returning to the nest anytime soon, she busies herself with preening and watching for danger. As she is working her feathers into their proper places with her beak she hears a rustle in some brush nearby. Her ear tufts shot up and her eyes locked onto the brush. The face of a meerkat poked out and a squeaky growl began to emit from her throat. Her feathers spread out like a turkey's and she leaned down and stared at the smaller predator. She continued to growl as she made herself look as big as she possibly could-- which was almost three times her usual size of ten inches. Her feathers stuck up and ruined all the hard work she had done to put them back in place.

Eventually, the meerkat was scared off and with an annoyed purr the orange-eyed beauty went back to preening and fixed all of the feathers that had been messed up in the exchange with the other predator. It took her a few hours, but she eventually decided that she would be presentable if her mate returned. She looked down at her nest and hopped back down to lay over her three shiny, white eggs.

They were fairly small and the larger nest left a bit of room for them to roll around, but their mother had them situated so that they would stay in place. The gorgeous owl laid in the nest while keeping her ear tufts stuck up and her eyes trained on the open area surrounding their tree. Every so often the annoyed purr would escape her, as her mate had not returned and it was supposed to be her night to hunt and he was to care for the eggs, but it seemed that that wouldn't happen.

Hours passed and the Scops Owl had had a few more meals of mice that had ended up beneath her nest when she was called to alertness once again. A harsh caw echoed through the air with a distinct, "kak, kak, kak". Her eyes found the source of the sound in the distance immediately.

She recognized the Peregrine Falcon was flying in her direction and knew that she must hide before it saw her and she became the larger bird's next meal. She stood over her eggs to hide them from sight and instead of puffing her feathers out she pulled them in tightly into her body and pulled a wing over her chest and stomach to hide the lighter colored feathers there. She stood up straighter to make her body look stretched out and she narrowed her eyes as much as she could so as to hide the bright orange color that would be spotted by the predatory bird immediately.

She held her position and watched the falcon scrupulously. A person would think that she was trying to scare the larger bird away, because of how monstrous and scary the bird would look against a background that she would easily stick out against, and with the fact that she looked like a stereotypical villain or Count Dracula, but that's not the case.

She was trying to hide. Against the tree and her nest, she looked just like another tree branch and she could blend in easily with a tree stump.

The Scops Owl watched as the falcon looked at her tree, but when it didn't see anything out of the ordinary it turned and flew in a different direction to look for food. After she was completely certain that the falcon was gone and that there were no other threats that she needed to protect herself and her babies from, she blinked her eyes open again and let her feather out and her wing fell back to her side. Her beak opened slowly as she yawned and the rising sun shined against her eyes. She laid back down slowly and let her eyes closed and fell into a blissful sleep as she felt the heat of her smaller mate press against her and with a soft and low, "to-whit-to-wheet" he fell asleep against her.

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade.

I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass, and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school, and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone, it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach:

Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off," and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake, I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself, not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, but you also turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It's about the players.

You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won't have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Poetry On Odyssey: Gardner

'I could smell her all over you / and once I even saw the juices / dripping from your lips"

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I knew it all along,

that the flowers in her garden

were laced with the sweetest nectar,

that flow from her hands to her hips.


The same scent that used to cling to you,

I could smell her all over you,

and once I even saw the juices

dripping from your lips.


But that garden has long since been set ablaze

Because things always get in the way.

And I guess that now you long to venture back,

to see if another seed has taken root.


And it's alright, I suppose,

My garden is far less vibrant.

It's been weeded too often, clipped too far

But hers is still so young, so fresh and full of life.


So you still water my plants,

and pretend to be in her field of flowers.

And you wonder to yourself,

because you don't know if you ever truly liked the taste

of bitter deceit swimming through your veins.

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