01 March 2013

How to Train Your Pterodactyl

One of my first nights back in Galmi, I was busy unpacking my house when all of a sudden I heard a shrill screeching squall.

Realizing it was coming from just outside my back door, I armed myself with a broom (which apart from my can of insecticide, is the only weapon in my house) and slowly slid back the deadbolt.

I flung the door open, hoping to scare away whatever beast might be waiting.  But there was nothing there.
I stepped outside onto the porch.  The screen door slammed  behind me, causing hysteria above my head.  A furry of squawking and clawing and hissing and flapping.  If I didn't know any better, I'd think I was on the set of Jurassic Park.  

I had never heard an animal sound like that outside of a zoo . . . or a movie. 

Feeling rather irritated that my peaceful moving-back-in had been interrupted, I raised the broom and knocked it on the base of the gutter that is in between the roofs of my house and screened-in-porch.

Whatever was inside clamored about, hissing and squalling at an even higher decibel.

I lifted the broom again, considering my general dislike for any of the roommates MotherNature tries to send my way, and I poked harder.  There was a nest inside.

Without warning, Mamma shot out of the gutter and spread her broad wings as she circled my porch.  Being dark out, all I saw was her wide arm-span and her long, dangling clawed legs.

'GREAT!' I thought to myself, 'There's a Pterodactyl nesting over my porch!'

It's been a month of squawking, hissing and clawing every night when it gets dark . . . until just before the sun comes up.

When I first described it to a Nigerien friend, I was told, with great confidence, 'Oh, it's a vulture!'  But I have since come to find out that I'm actually growing two baby owls up there!  Who knew owls could hiss!

Our weekend guard, I., graciously offered to climb up there and remove the nest (apparently his wife has a great recipe for Owl Stew) . . . but I told him I wanted the babies to grow up . . . and that I was hoping Mamma would start paying some rent.

I was assured that once they could fly, they would all abandon the nest and my peaceful nights would no longer be interrupted by prehistoric pandemonium.  I was looking forward to that day.

Well, two nights ago, my neighbor L. called to me and told me she had something to show me.  I went to the hallway between our apartments . . . she told me to look out the window.

There he was . . . perched like a little prince . . . our first sweet baby owl.

He was ADORABLE, all soft and feathery . . . I felt proud . . . as if I had actually done something more than poke their nest from time to time.

We watched him for a while and eventually lost interest in his incessant perching.

About an hour later, I heard loud hissing and clawing.  I want out to check on him.  He was gone.  But there were no feathers on the ground, so I assumed he had flown back up into the nest and hadn't been preyed upon by one of our compound dogs.

But this morning, I found out the truth . . . baby never made it back to the nest.  Getting out of the nest had been his test flight . . . and apparently his wings were still a bit over tired.  He had tried climbing up my neighbor's screen when our guard, I., walked by on his rounds.

The commotion I had heard was baby's twin brother, up in the nest, helpless, as he watched his nestmate get poached!

I. told me this morning that since baby couldn't fly away, he just grabbed him and lifted him off the screen, then took him home and had a really yummy dinner.

I'm still not sure which is worse . . . that my baby owl became a tasty meal or that I. didn't bring me a bowl.  (I hear it tastes like chicken!)


Rebekah said...

oh my!!! After ready this story, the words "The Dingo ate my baby" come to mind... only it should be "I. ate my owl!"

Deb. said...