October 2014: An Owl Makes an Impression


An owl flew into our bedroom window. We know this from the greasy imprint it left behind. We don’t know when it happened and we assume it was uninjured, as no trace of flesh or feathers was found beneath. Presumably the cats would have left some trace, had they eaten it. Unless, of course, a fox carried it away, whole.

There are several interesting aspects to the photograph.

Firstly, to observe that the owl’s feathers have a waxy coating which has transferred to the window on impact.

Secondly, the clarity of the wing feathers. There are points at the top of the wing and the joint halfway along, where you can see evidence of the bone structure.

Thirdly, the shape of the eyes can be made out. There is no surprise or shock in the expression, indicating that it had not foreseen the impact.

What is perhaps most interesting is that the bird appears to have hit the window with some force. If you enlarge the image, you can see two distinct images of the head, including two pairs of eyes. This would indicate that it was flying so fast that its head struck the window, bounced back, and then hit it again through the forward momentum. The body, being heavier, merely bounced back, or fell, the once.

I suspect from looking at the images on the World Owl Trust website http://www.owls.org/Species/athene/littleowl.htm that it is a Little Owl, which is common in this part of Essex. If you believe it to be a different species, please let me know.