Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cuteness and its many forms

If you recall from this post, Thirteen our screech owl is going through the atypical feather molt that seems to be the bane of captive screech owls everywhere.
A week after I took those photos, I went in to get him again.  Things are looking up....but little dude still has a long way to go.

oh dear
At least his ear tufts are coming back...
No matter how many feathers he loses, I still think Thirteen is cute.
Sort of like a Jim Henson creation.  Think about Animal.  That's one weird looking thing.  But we all love him anyway, right?

If he let me, I would love to help him preen off all of those feather sheaths....

A few things to point out, since it's not every day you get to observe a screech owl so closely:
A glare through the nictitating membrane
The nictitating membrane:  (from the Latin nictare, to blink)
This is a membrane present in many animals such as birds, reptiles and sharks.  Some mammals have a vestigal nictitating membrane (We humans have it...the pink bit in the inner corner) while some mammals have a fully active, controllable membrane.

They are either transparent or the above photo, we can clearly see the disapproval and embarrassment through the membrane.

Another cool thing:
The ears of an owl are set near the face, close to the sides but facing forward.  In the Tytonidae owl species (such as Barn Owls), and the aperture is rounded and asymmetrical (the left ear is set higher than the right), but in the Strigidae owls, the shape of the aperture varies.
An owl's range of audible sounds is not dissimilar to ours, but their hearing is so acute at certain frequencies they are able to hear the slightest movement of their prey.
The facial disc that every owl species possesses funnels sound waves right to the ears, acting like a satellite dish.  And they are able to manipulate those feathers to calculate where their prey is.  Barn owls' hearing is so acute, they can find their prey in total darkness.

And when the satellite dish falls off, we can see right in there.Thirteen ear canal
If you can see the hole in Thirteen's head, behind and just under his eye?  This is the ear canal. 

I love this photo just for the glint of sunlight in his eye.    And that pitiful ear tuft, still half wrapped in sheaths:
thirteen glint in the eye

A completely different type of cuteness:

School begin this week and the girls are excited to be back.
A big thing around here is that Lorelei is cheerleading this year. 
And boy is she good at it.  It comes to her naturally, this whole ra-ra thing.
Lorelei cheer
This beautiful and good-natured child has been fun to be with since birth.  Shoot....even delivering her was EASY.

Today we got to watch her do her very first cheerleading gig, complete with football game.


Now, I did the cheerleading back in the day, just for a year.  I don't really know why.  I ended up being one of those ironically sarcastic teenagers who quietly sneered at cheerleaders.
So along with it being amazingly expensive, I had to struggle with my inner conflict....

But when a child really really wants to do something like this, a good mom just bites her tongue and writes the check.


(We won, too.  It was a scoreless game until the fourth quarter, when out of the blue, one of our boys had the ball and somehow outran everyone down the field for a 60 yard touchdown. 
I broke a blood vessel in my finger, I got so into it.  It was awesome.
(Maybe I didn't completely leave the cheerleading behind?)

Check this starts EARLY, the whole football player/cheerleader thing:
the boy doesn't have his head in the game
That boy does NOT have his mind on the game.


Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed these pictures. She looks like she is having a great time. Love Nona

Tricia said...

Cuteness overload! Lorelei is a living doll baby. She looks so sweet in her cheer outfit. I love the lesson on owls, and thanks for sharing 13's most embarrassing condition.

Vickie said...

Thirteen is stretching the word "cute"! But I do love these guys and its so wonderful that you get such intimate times with them. Love your Lorilei's cheer leading energy. (Good time to go with the flow Mom...;)