It was two weeks ago that we found the barn owl. He was under an oak, no visible wounds, no trauma, his feathers all intact. It had been a bitterly cold night, one in a series, in fact, and I wondered if that had something to do with his death.
I moved him, put him in a private place in a drift of leaves near a fallen tree. He was so light when I lifted him, still fierce. I worried someone might come along and steal his feathers, so I moved him.
On Monday, like we do every day, like we have done every day for the last six months, the dogs and I, we walked in the oaks. And there was something strange about one of them, a bulge near the base.
We're there every day, shoot photos every day and if anything's different, we see it. And that day what was different was that someone had killed a barn owl, then bound his feet with orange twine and hung him from the tree.
It was grotesque and obscene and I know I'm just showing how sheltered I am but it was unbearable. Later, I thought I should have taken a photo, evidence or something. But what I did was put the owl in that same drift of leaves.
I called the property owner and haven't heard back. Called someone I know at the National Park Service, just for advice, and haven't heard back. Emailed Pete Thomas, who writes a great outdoors blog and that's how I wound up leaving a message at Fish and Game, to have a local warden call me. I hope I hear back.
Then a friend talked to a friend and yesterday, I moved the owls from among the leaves and gave them to Dennis at the California Wildlife Center. He found a bullet wound in one. They're going to X-ray the other.
I guess I'm telling you this because who knows, maybe somehow someone will know what to do and maybe it'll help. What helped me was that on the drive up Piuma, and then again at the wildlife center, a pair of bobcats trotted by.