Our Owl Box


by cheri

I’ve come to the conclusion that a barn owl couple will not be inhabiting our owl box, erected three years ago,  any time soon.

There is no good reason why not.

It’s full of ample room with pine shavings lining the bottom, the type you put in a hamster’s cage. The box faces east, out of the wind and overlooks a stunning silver-green orchard of olive trees through which, at night, must scamper mice and other delicacies that owls so enjoy. Everything that a pair of barn owls needs, awaits them in the box.

Everything but warmth, that is. Heat they must create themselves.

Whether owl or human, we all want to be warm when it is cold, right?

Sounds simple, but in the world of long-term marriages, such an obvious statement can become twisted. I know. Staying warm in our own owl box upstairs has become a topic of dissension  conversation.

I’ve been nesting with a  wise old owl for many years. As he has aged, he has become quirkier and eccentric about certain things but not everything. For example, when served a slice of meatloaf made up of of hamburger, tomato paste, onion soup mix, a non-organic egg, and  boxed bread crumbs, he is just fine. No problem thumping the Heinz Catsup bottle, scooting peas, and spearing tater tots. No request for epicurean improvement.


When it comes to getting into a bed with cold sheets (never mind the puffy down comforter resting above those sheets), he grumbles and hoots and has been doing so since he turned 60. “I’m your electric blanket; just be patient and cozy up,” I have suggested.

I’ve also kindly observed that wearing pajamas (or wearing something..since he has become more eccentric)  might be a good winter survival plan, but my suggestions have fallen on cold bums.

In his eccentricity, he has feathered our nest with electric blankets, warming mattress pads, and now, this season–a blanket that warms the bed without electric wires. Two red lights with the Number 10 on dual controls tell him his nest is inhabitable.

He settles in and falls asleep rather quickly.

I fly in, dressed for a winter night’s sleep in something commensurate with the temperature outside ( I learned this habit in the Guide to Human Survival), and slip into the heated shavings which could be used to roast marshmellows.

I find the bed is as warm as hot soup.

In the heat of the night, I reach over in the darkness, pat him in all his warmness, and click off my side of the blanket.

There in our mixed-use owl box, we sleep, dreaming that a real barn owl couple will see the same opportunities we have enjoyed in our co-habitation.









About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Growing Olives and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Our Owl Box

  1. Brighid says:

    It is comforting in a strange way to know that others go through this… When the Cowman was in that state, I just doubled the electric blanket on his side of the bed.
    What did the owl guru say about them not taking to the nest box. I wonder if it is something in the shavings or location?

    • Cheri says:

      Irv, the Owl Man, is mystified, Brighid. The only owls we hear in our riparian forest are gret horned owls. If you’ve ever heard a barn owl (and I am sure you have), it is an odd sound. We have not heard barn owls. As Richard observes in his comment, perhaps we need a barn nearby, stuffed with hay. The old Canandian barn next door, build by Ron’s grandfather, has now been turned into a Buddhist structure by the property’s new owner. No more hay there!

  2. Richard says:

    I heard recently that barn owl boxes have to be sited in, of all things a barn. The barn has to be filled with straw bales in order to attract a large population of voles. Success is then guaranteed.

    Electric blankets are a boon to the human race. They are a sheer joy, as close to heaven as we are ever likely to get in this life.

    • Cheri says:

      As I just wrote to Brighid, the barn next door is no longer. The closest barn filled with hay is about 1 mile up the road. Maybe we should change the shavings or relocate the box. I will call Irv this week.
      As far as electric blankets and heaven, I am sure that in the cold English winters, they surely are.

  3. Christopher says:

    If the photo at the top of your posting was taken recently, can it be said that you have the cold of winter at all?!!

    The electric blanket was one of the many topics explored in the 1981 film “My Dinner With Andre”.

    One of the protagonists insisted always on always heating the blanket first, before getting into bed because, well, why not enjoy the warmth right away.

    The other protagonist liked always to get into a cold bed, then after while, turning the electric blanket on, so he could experience both being cold, and then experience slowly and deliciously getting warm, thus providing an experience which is lacking when you get into a warm bed right away, when you have “…….that kind of comfort that just separates you from reality in a very direct way…….”.

    Hence, like a lobotomy, immediate comfort can lull us into a dangerous tranquility.

    Moi, I always get into my bed when it is cold, and go to sleep until the cold wakes me up, whereupon I get out of bed, switch on the natural gas heating, then get back into bed and enjoy the wonderful feeling of going from being cold to being warm.

    Thus , I never take being warm for granted.

    Experience is all, is it not?

    • Cheri says:

      I love your movie referencess. I never saw “My Dinner with Andre,” but just the topic of the temperature at which two people like to sleep and how they go about solving their differences makes the movie appealing.
      Your strategy–getting into a cold bed until the cold wakes you up–well? It reminds me of the people who jump into the freezing water on New Year’s Day just for the heck of it or to show the world that there are still tough individuals on this planet. I do, however, see your logic in your method.
      The picture is old and was taken in July of 2012 when the box was erected. 🙂

  4. shoreacres says:

    Every, single trip I would take with my mother in the car, we’d go through the same thing. When she was comfortable, I was dying of the heat. When I was comfortable, she was all accusing glances and mutterings about “ice boxes.” Since there was no dual control available, a nice, light, fleece throw was called into service. It helped. Another helped even more.

    I wonder if anyone’s invented an electric blanket that plugs into the cigarette lighter….

    • shoreacres says:

      Oh! The owls. I’ve heard that every species of bird requires Just The Right Size Hole in their box. If you haven’t checked that, you might.

      • Cheri says:

        You are absolutely right. The man who made and erected the box is an owl expert. As I mentioned to Richard below, I am going to call Irv this weekend. The specs for the box are perfect but something is wrong.
        Of course, the little kid inside of me became so excited when the box went up. I had every intention of putting in a camera, etc. I walked over every morning with my coffee in with owl eyes in anticpation of our new family only to be disapointed that none ever took up residence.

    • Cheri says:

      Linda, your story about you and your mother and your temperature travel escapes made me laugh. I went through the same EXACT scenario with one exception: because my mother was deaf, she had difficulty modulating her voice and would blurt out in a big voice: I’M COLD!!!
      I carried blankets in my car and on her wheelchair for these circumstances.
      I hope I don’t do this to my daughter.

  5. bogard says:

    Well, sounds pretty much like this ‘barn owl couple’ down here in the South. Same cold and hot sides, but eccentricities may be switched…depending on who you consult, of course. Stay cozy out there.

  6. wkkortas says:

    While my wife and I have run into no temperature related kerfuffles (we keep the house very cool, and the temperatures have been in the single digit above and below zero in our neck of the woods as of late), we have introduced a cat into the equation as of late; where he decides to settle in for the evening generally requires a good deal of contortion for the occupant of that side of the bed, plus the chunky fellow gives off a good bit of warmth his ownsefl, though nowhere near the warmth provided by your sketch.

    • Cheri says:

      I’ve always thought it would be nice to have a bed warmer in the form of a cat, but in this life with this husband it will come to pass. I’m lucky to have my stuffed animal in bed with me. Single digits? We Californians are such weenies.

  7. Richard says:


    All eyes watched on that special day
    When down the aisle process’d
    Owl bride of brides, with gown of hay.
    The judge – O yes, you’ve guessed. To wit

    Now weddings are a joyous time,
    Except for one event,
    That moment when, in case of crime,
    He asks about impediment. He must,

    A hush fell on each feathered guest
    When from the gallery behind,
    A bold hoot came – “Where is the nest?”
    A pallor fell upon that face so kind. Of him

    The groom’s head turned from front to back
    To see who’d him betrayed –
    And then, for radians he did not lack –
    To where the judge stood, undismayed. Hizonner,

    Pure as the night, the justice called,
    “This stranger, one and all, has nerve,
    Yet we all know and are appalled,
    The day’ll be saved by my friend Irv.” (That’s why he is

    So thus he read the words of splice,
    To smiles and swoops of happiness,
    “You twoo are one, hunt many mice
    For nestlings more, not less.” He knew, did he,

    So one day, just you wait and see,
    Young Brigid Owl will find your place
    Just perfect for a mother-to-be
    And aerial displays of peerless grace.

    • Cheri says:

      Oh my owl ness! This poem is a delight and most surely will entice all barn owls far and wide to visit and maybe to start their families at the Rancho. Thank you for authoring this Tale of TWOO.😍

  8. Pingback: Hogwarts in the Olive Orchard | Notes from Around the Block

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