This is what I hear every night.
Two Great-Horned Owl fledglings, calling to their parents to "Feed ME!"
That is the same sound I hear each night between my house and my neighbor's house.
I am fascinated and troubled, all at the same time.
Fascinated because, well....because they're Great Horned Owls for goodness sakes!
Troubled because our resident pair of GHOs have successfully raised a pair of babies this year and my pasture is their beginner learning grounds.
Mom and Dad bring the chicks, who are now flying, over for "catch your dinner" lessons.
It is now more vital than ever that my cat and my chickens be in bed and not out doing hunting of their own.
The parents no longer respect the "creatures of the night" rule that they normally abide by.
They are coming up long before the cat and chickens are ready to go in.
Last night, I shooed the chickens to bed early and physically brought the cat indoors.
Then I stood like a statue with my donkeys and watched Owl training in progress.
Any movement on my part drives them away.
The chicks land clumsily in low hanging branches of my giant oak trees.
The parents land on high perches to observe all the activity below.
The chicks call and call---"Feed ME! Feed ME!"
The parents call back--"No, you try. You find your own dinner."
That is what I assume the parents say, because not long after their call from the treetops, the chicks swoop into the pasture and land with a thump.
They are wishing for rats and mice.
They are getting the terribly large grasshoppers that are thriving right now.
They walk-hop-flutter in their hunt for bugs.
Then, when their hunger isn't satiated, they fly to fence posts, barely stick the landing and call again.
"I'm still hungry! Please feed me!"
The parents call back with the same message as before.
The chick is off the fence post and back with a thump again--hunting grasshoppers and emerging cicadas.
Soon, soon they will learn to hunt larger prey.
Rats and mice.
Chickens and cats.
They will learn to perch high in the trees and watch, watch, watch for prey that will fill their bellies more quickly than grasshoppers and cicadas.
They will master flying without a sound and landing with the precision of a pilot on an aircraft carrier.
Until then, I am ever watchful as dusk approaches.
Fascinated and troubled.
I do not want a youngster to talk a parent into finding him a bigger dinner.
A dinner of chicken or cat.