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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Note to the Feds: Don't Mess With My Owls!

SEATTLE, WA — Students and staff at the University of Washington were surprised early Friday morning to find a tiny, gray barred owl sitting dazed and confused on the sidewalk near the Suzzallo and Allen Libraries. As academics will their first instinct was to summon someone in authority. Someone quickly phoned the UW Environmental Health and Safety department and next thing you know a helpful staffer had strung up enough yellow "caution" tape around the owl to clear a murder scene. Then, they erected some traffic cones for good measure. In addition to all that caution tape, EHS also put up a sign insisting passerbys not bother the owl.

By 11 a.m., a wildlife biologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture was on scene to scoop the little owl up and tucked it in a red box . The owl was delivered to the PAWS shelter in Lynnwood, where the vet found the little fellow bruised but in fair shape. It was decide that he had likely flown into a window and stunned himself. It was demonstrative of the university's befuddlement over the whole thing (and just this side of miraculous) that the university agreed to use "he" as the owl's pronoun of choice.

The interesting bit of the report was that owls live here, but not native to the Northeast. Barred owls appear to have migrated here only recently, probably having heard that spotted owls were dying out. The feds are in such a dither about the threat to spotted owls, having spent so many millions in programs to protect spotted owls, that in 2013, the federal government came up with a plan to hire hunters to kill barred owls in the Pacific Northwest to protect northern spotted owls. Apparently barred owls are hogging all the good hunting grounds.

We have a pair of barred owls that have made our 15 acre wood their personal hunting ground. It's a good spot. My neighbor, Dan, feeds the squirrels, swelling the population hereabouts. My landlady live traps the squirrels when they come over and attempt to settle in her attic - banishing them to the woods around the nearby Army base. Between the two of them they've achieved a kind of ecological balance - until the barred owls moved in and probably ran off a couple of spotted owls if the Audubon Society is to be believed.

Since they move in, the owls have reduced my landlady's squirrel relocation tally significantly and thinned the crowd around Dan's feeder. Dan's squirrel feed lot is located just below our bedroom window and the owls often sit on a nearby tree branch trying to decide which of the 10 to 15 squirrels circling the squirrel feeder at all times looks the fattest. They sing owlish love songs outside of our bedroom window in the spring. During holiday weekends when Washingtonians engage in their traditional home fireworks extravaganza, Lucy the dog hides upstairs and the owls come sit very close to the house to ride out the whole neighborhood noise festival business.

The spotted owls seem insistent on becoming extinct despite the government having spent several fortunes defending them.
Species come and species go seems to be the rule. It's the way of nature. I may not buy the whole Darwinian evolution deal, but there's some truth to the survival of the fittest model. Perhaps spotted owls are just a puny species whose time has come.  Besides! I like our barred owls. I can even get them to hoot back at me by imitating their typical "who cooks for your" call. I've grown quite fond of the pair of them, even when they insist on singing love songs outside my window at 1 AM. Still the owls have become part of the ecosystem family around here. They are hard workers and without out them who would pick our rats. And if the feds send hired guns after my owls, I just may have to exercise my 2nd amendment rights to defend my homies.

I thought the leftists in the federal government liked illegal immigrants! Apparently, however, they don't mind exhibiting their blatant prejudice against the barred owl race. These undocumented immigrants to the Pacific Northwest are being oppressed by the federales.  The Forest Service (the ICE to the animal kingdom) are talking about hiring gunmen to stalk and kill these innocent refugees from the violence and oppression of the Northeast states, seeking freedom and sanctuary in Oregon, Idaho and Washington State.

Therefore, taking my cue from members of the Democrat party, I have declared our little patch of wooded wetlands a sanctuary city for undocumented barred owls.

Just be warned! I'm from Texas and I'll be armed.

© 2019 by Tom King

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Having Lots of Stories

I come from a storytelling people. My Irish ancestors steal stories from every culture on Earth and make them their own. My Cherokee ancestors told stories around the campfire on long nights. My Scots, British, German, Scandanavian and Jewish forebears told their own stories and told them quite well if you check out any decent library. 

Not everyone likes my storytelling, however. Storytelling is a gift that can be powerful, especially in an argument.

A friend of mine once complained that whenever we argue, I've always got a story that proves I'm right. The implication is, of course, that I make these stories up to prove my point.

Not so!  By the time you get to be as old as me, you've collected thousands of such stories. They shape how you think and what you believe. We call that experience. It's the best way I know to discover the truth.

If you've managed to do things in your life, if you've stepped out of your comfort zone regularly, if you've heard God's still small voice and said, "Here am I, send me," then you probably have a lot more interesting and illustrative stories than most folk.

© 2019 by Tom King