F is for Fearful Owl
The fearful owl, with its white eyebrows and lores (down the sides of its beak) which make a prominent ‘X’ on its face, and attractive, ochre colouring and black streaks, is endemic to and only found in the Solomon Islands and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.
They eat mainly phalangers (a type of arboreal marsupial) introduced into the Solomon Islands in prehistoric times, and are thought to have previously lived on giant, arboreal rats that are now very rare.
These large (15 inch) owls are solitary and mysterious – not much is known about them, and reading every website I can find, information ranges from the rudimentary to the possibly fanciful (they eat their own feathers, which is more likely than the fact that they live more than 100 years, growing all the time, and are practically immortal).
They get their name from their cry, which is a loud, feminine scream, repeated every 10 seconds, growing in volume and intensity.
The fearful owl is rarely seen and it is classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, mainly due to loss of and degradation of its forest habitat.
Here is my fearful owl poem – in the face of fanciful facts about this owl, my poem is rather less truly informative than usual! Below that, a Youtube video of the owl, showing just how distinctive its facial markings are.
Please tell me now, oh fearful owl,
your wide, round eyes agleam
under your white and furrowed brow
why do you scream and scream?
I scream because I am alarmed
it’s not enough to sigh –
my forest’s trees are being harmed,
that’s why I cry and cry.
© Liz Brownlee
Image by and © Lars Petersson, on his blog, used by permission.
Poem © Liz Brownlee,
Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved, not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.
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