They are eastern gods — they meditate.
(Yes they are.)
“The Owls” by Charles Baudelaire
(translated by Edna St. Vincent Millay)
The owls that roost in the black yew
Along one limb in solemn state,
And with a red eye look you through,
Are eastern gods; they meditate.
No feather stirs on them, not one,
Until that melancholy hour
When night, supplanting the weak sun,
Resumes her interrupted power.
Their attitude instructs the wise
To shun all action, all surprise.
Suppose there passed a lovely face —
Who even longs to follow it,
Must feel for ever the disgrace
Of having all but moved a bit.
This is a Great-horned Owl photographed just off a Berkeley hiking trail. She was observing us without anyone observing her … until Hugh and I caught the anomalous shape in the tree. We didn’t stay long — didn’t want to draw attention to her on a popular hiking route. She didn’t show any signs of disturbance during our short photo shoot.
Great-horned Owls exhibit reverse sexual dimorphism, meaning the female is larger than the male. That distinction is beautifully photographed in this post by fellow blogger Ron Dudley. I don’t think it’s possible to tell the sex without both male and female in the frame, but if it is, I’d love to know.