Mystic Midnight – An ABA Young Birder Essay

By ABA Young Birder, Edith Dawson

Barred Owl by Owen Deutsch

I couldn’t sleep. I had lapsed into tiredness so profound that I had little hope of any rest. I had been tossing and turning since 10:30. It was after midnight. I couldn’t bear the thought of one more minute trapped in my hot, stuffy room, worrying about an upcoming physics test and fantasizing about traveling on a birding trip to Colorado during the summer. I opened the window. It started to rain; thin lisps of liquid fell from the sky. Lightning flashed in the distance and a cool breeze blew through the crack in my window. I felt a sense of utter calm.

It started to rain harder, and as my window became hopelessly obscured, my mind began to wander. I thought about how I hadn’t seen many boreal birds this winter. I hadn’t seen any snowy owls, evening grosbeaks, or even a common redpoll. Not only had I not seen them, I’d barely taken the time to look for them with all my focus on schoolwork. And now it seemed winter was over as the rain pattered down around me. No snow would be left after this storm. . . I began to drift off with images of elusive bird species drifting through my head. Suddenly, the crash of thunder aroused me from my stupor. A neighbor’s wind chimes pierced the din. As if on cue, a Barred Owl silently swooped through the yard. Its soft brown and white pattern both blended in and stood out against the mellow, dark hues of the night.

I will remember that moment for a long time.

It’s not often that something so mystical and unique appears on such a “dreary” and “drippy” night- a night that humans don’t deign to go out in, but a small owl does. Or

maybe it does happen- we are just so trapped in our own worries and woes that we never realize it.

I had a smile on my face as I drifted off to sleep, and, as the wind blew, I heard the low, mournful call: “Who? Who cooks for you?”

Edith Dawson is a 15-year-old birder from Mount Vernon, Iowa. When she’s not busy playing with her younger brothers and running cross country, she loves to explore new natural areas around her. She is an avid traveler and hopes to bird in all 50 states. Her most recent addition to her life list was an Evening Grosbeak that she saw in Colorado!