by Kurt Zuelsdorf
For more than a week now from the dark shadows cast by the streetlight into the crooked branches my live oak... a sound carries over my lawn. The first cry penetrated my bedroom window, left open to hear the rain, and I opened my eyes. I walked toward the front door only to find someone with a flashlight in my yard! Unusual as it was I watched patiently with the phone ready to dial 911. It was the neighbor lady donning a night gown, shining the treetops! She had been passing by on a dog walk and heard the same shreaking call, thinking a stray cat may have caught a squirrel or a rodent she was concerned. Just then, from behind us and right between us a winged creature swooped and grabbed a gecko lizard from the porch rail! We caught the bird in the flashlight beam on a big branch just in time to see an adult screech owl feeding the unlucky lizard to it's young! The young owl was no bigger than my hand and reminded me of my feeble grandpa with his big brown eyes and thin hair standing on end. He gobbled and gurgled the gecko down and continued screaming for more. The adult made frequent trips to the ground and snatched lovely cockroaches and bugs from the mulch...ahhh yes...dinner time at the Z's and a fine example of nature's solutions for pests!