Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Circular Walk of Terror

JK Rowling had it all wrong about owls.

Remember the warm fuzzy imagery the British uber-author created around the relationship between the boy-wizard and his pet owl Hedwig?

I came face-to-face with one of the feathered creatures on Saturday and it was in no way magical.

It seemed like an innocent day’s outing to the World of Birds in Hout Bay and it started out fantastically.

We oohed and aahed at the kestrels and other birds of prey, talked to the parrots, chased a peacock and even felt sorry for the sad little vulture which seemed to have seen better days. We took a breather in the squirrel monkey enclosure where a little furry thief tried to see what was inside my handbag, fed an Alpaca and even prodded a few giant tortoises. Creepy stalker ducks? They have those too.

It all went wrong when we reached the Owl Circular Walk.

We went inside expecting that it was going to be an exceptionally unexciting tour since the owls, being nocturnal, were probably sleeping. This impression was further cemented by the fact that in the first enclosure the little brown furry ball at the back of the pen was fast asleep. We could hear a loud hooting sound but ignored it, thinking that it was probably a lot further away.

I went to the wire mesh door and jumped back in surprise when I tried to open it. There was a great big Brown Horned Owl hiding on the ground behind the door.

We had found the source of the hooting.

I tried opening the door again and the owl hopped out into our enclosure and proceeded to attack me. Dale, bless his heart, came to stand between me and the flapping owl, which started pecking ferociously at his shoe.

It was at this point that I ran away.

(I’m not embarrassed about saying this because a) I’m a girl and b) Owls have really sharp bits in more than one place)

The not-so-great thing about these enclosures is that the door you entered in can only be opened from the outside so I had to shout for someone to come let us out.

Dale’s Converse bears some insane owl damage. I only wish that I had my camera on me at the time to capture the little feathered terror standing threatenly between us and the next enclosure. Anyway, it was well funny, especially since we went back later to finish the Owl Walk and I’m almost convinced that the same owl was checking us out from the corner of his eye as if to say “Come back in here, I dare you”

This is the second time this year that I have been attacked by some form of bird. I don’t get it.



Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Fiona</a>
    October 6th, 2008 @10:28 #

    Hitchcock knew a thing or two about birds...

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    October 6th, 2008 @16:39 #

    Bird attacks are pretty common, actually. I've been dive-bombed a number of times in a number of situations for no rhyme or reason (apart from my general offensiveness, of course): while jogging, hiking, sitting at a cafe, etc.

    But I'm glad I've never been attacked by an owl. Those are seriously mean avians!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    October 7th, 2008 @14:33 #

    Knowing Dale's luck with animals, I suspect the bird was going for him in the first place and you were just collateral damage.

    Matthew once suffered a dive-bombing by hawk in Kenya. The bird swooped out of the skies across his table and snatched the quarter chicken right off his plate, skimming his nose with its wingtip.

    And a friend of ours was banned from World of Birds for the ah... provocative effect she had on the monkeys. Something in her pheremones. They went ape in an assortment of nasty ways. like 14 year old boys scoping Internet porn.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    October 7th, 2008 @15:27 #

    haha you should really check out his shoes. Its classic. I laugh every time I look at them.


Please register or log in to comment

» View comments as a forum thread and add tags in BOOK Chat