Why the Owl Hunts at Night
Last updated 7/27/2013 at 6:39pm
I heard something thumping and banging in the lobby of the building where I live. I went outside into the hallway and saw a young sparrow in the hallway and he was flying against the large window next to the door. The door was wide open and the bird had obviously flown inside through the door but now he was confused and he kept flying against the window. He could see the trees and the sky through the glass. He could also see his home, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t fly through the glass. The sparrow was young, some of his feathers still looked like fluffy down, this might have been his first flight from the nest and now he was trapped. He was one foot away from freedom but it didn’t see the open door. The mother bird was on the other side of the window pecking at the glass and frantically trying to free her baby.
I got a mop and stood on a chair and gently tried to push the baby bird off the window sill without hurting it. After several tries I nudged him off and he flew downward and flew out the open door to freedom. I watched him land on the grass where he was joined by two other birds and they all flew away together. I was glad he wasn’t injured. It was a relief he was finally free.
I wondered how many times we “fly” into someplace, not really looking for trouble, and we end up trapped. We get trapped in the wrong job, the wrong relationship, the wrong group, and when we try to get out we don’t see the obvious way out. We keep beating our wings against the closed window when the door next to it is wide open. God never wants us to get into trouble or into danger. He doesn’t want us to be unhappy, and no matter how we got into the trap, He always provides an escape, a way out. While we keep butting our heads against the closed window, He has His door wide open.
There is an old Indian legend about why the owl can’t see in the daylight and has to hunt at night. The first owl was called Onawa. His name meant “wide awake” because his eyes are wide open.
When Onawa’s first owlet hatched, Onawa, the father took it from the nest to teach it to fly. Father Owl told the baby to follow him closely and to fly exactly where he flew because there were dangerous cliffs and swift rivers and worst of all was a big, dark cave that was so big that no bird who ever flew into the cave ever came out again.
Father Owl and owlet flew in big circles, they climbed high and then dived. Father Owl taught the baby how to hunt for small prey and the owlet followed Father Owl but the owlet grew curious about the cave and decided it wouldn’t hurt to just fly to the entrance of the cave and have a look inside.
When owlet flew to the entrance of the cave, a sudden gust of wind blew him inside the cave so far he couldn’t find his way out because it was completely black inside.
Onawa knew his son would soon die inside the cave because there was no food or water in the cave. Onawa knew he might die if he also flew into the cave but he knew he couldn’t leave his son behind so he spread his big wings and he flew into the cave and searched and searched. The father owl couldn’t see anything in the dark cave and he called for his son, “Whooooo,” and the owlet would answer “Whoooo.” Finally the father owl found his son and with the very last of his strength, he led his son back outside into the sunlight.
Unfortunately, the father owl and his son had been inside the cave so long, the sunlight was now too bright for them and hurt their eyes. Creator saw that Onawa had been willing to sacrifice everything to save his son and Creator told Onawa the sun in the daytime would be too bright for owls to hunt and that owls would hunt by moonlight and starlight and no other birds would hunt or fly at night. From that time on owls could only fly and hunt at night and they would still call to each other like they had in the cave, “Whoooo…whoooo.”
We are not so different from the baby sparrow trapped behind a glass window. We can all accidentally fly into a situation, not really looking for trouble and we make a mistake and get trapped.
Like the baby owl, sometimes we go too far and get into trouble or danger. Sometimes someone we love gets into danger and we have to risk all we have to save them.
We have to remember that even if we feel trapped, God has already provided a way to escape. God can set us free from any trap we’ve fallen into.
“For it is He Who takes you away from the trap, and from the killing sickness. He will cover you with His wings. And under His wings you will be safe” (Psalm 91:3 NLV).
Crying Wind is the author of Crying Wind and My Searching Heart, When the Stars Danced, and Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins. All her books are available from Indian Life.