Owls yawn – whoo, whoo, whoo even knew?

17 July, 2016            Owls yawn – whoo, whoo, whoo even knew?

Owls yawn – did you even know that? I took this picture Tuesday afternoon at Pony Pasture:

Barred Owl (Strix varia) yawns in the afternoon heat at Pony Pasture

Barred Owl (Strix varia) yawns in the afternoon heat at Pony Pasture

All the time I’ve spent outdoors in my life, it never occurred to me that owls yawn. Why would it? That’s why we say “learn something new every day.” There’s so much stuff you don’t even think of.

Another thing about that is, this owl was young – still one of the youngsters who has been growing up beside that creek this spring and early summer. And I’m sure it had just eaten, and it was hot and humid, and of course it felt sleepy. Just like a person would. And it yawned. Incredible.

When I was pulling into the parking lot at Pony Pasture this morning – with five dogs! – an osprey was hovering high around mid-river. We hike down a ways before we even get to the river’s edge so the parking lot was the last time we saw it. But the nest near West End Assembly of God (WEAG) is still quite active. This adult had just brought a fish back to the nest: 

Osprey with a mid-day meal

Osprey with a mid-day meal

That nest is west of Parham Road and north of the river. There’s another active nest east of the road and south of the river just across from Stony Point Fashion Park. It’s behind the parking lot of Fulton Bank, on a powerline tower overlooking Chippenham Parkway. There were ospreys on it Wednesday but the light wasn’t good and it’s a hard angle to shoot.

An easy angle to shoot is down at about knee level in my backyard – at this come-from-nowhere gladiola that grew without warning in the center of our dog-pummeled grass:

The background is unspectacular but that gladiola is breathtaking

The background is unspectacular but that gladiola is breathtaking

That’s a “volunteer,” a.k.a. Any plant that the gardener didn’t put in, and is not a weed. I read four common ways that volunteer plants come up (you can read them too if you click that link) but I simply cannot imagine how that beauty appeared in that otherwise-forlorn spot. It’s not near anything else, and it’s unimaginable there was ever a garden at that spot at some point in the past. It’s a delightful and lovely mystery. And they bloom just in time for Evelyn’s birthday, which is this week! I’d run it over with the lawnmower every year before she got here – I never imagined it would bloom at all. It’s a great reward for doing nothing more than not-killing a plant.

At the other end of the plant care spectrum are these gardenias, which Evelyn has spent countless hours caring for. This one was a little faded (Evelyn was out of town this weekend) but the light is pretty. And a thing about gardenias is, they smell delicious practically until they turn into mulch. It’s a beautiful plant:

I think every flower secretly wishes it was a gardenia. They are simply without parallel.

I think every flower secretly wishes it was a gardenia. They are simply without parallel.

Brief entry this week – things have been busy. Looking forward to next week! I hope your week has been great and next week is even better. All best,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Owls yawn – whoo, whoo, whoo even knew?

  1. Jackie says:


  2. Bob Parker says:

    Hi Jay,
    Love the yawning owl.
    I’ve been thinking for sometime that you should enter your work for the Virginia Wildlife annual photo issue. The “yawning owl” pushed me to comment.
    Google the magazine. What should come up is the cover of this year’s photo issue. The picture on the front cover is a barred owl taken at Pony Pasture….. Could the two of you be taking pictures of the same owl? If you’d like to see the issue go talk to my grandson Owen, he subscribes to it.
    Keep up the good work.
    Bob Parker

  3. Pingback: Most people are nice | NEWFAZE

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