Who-o-o, who-o-o

12 02 2010

I photographed this handsome (beautiful?) owl at a wildlife rehabilitation center near the Mote Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida. I had to photograph him through a cage, so I’m surprised the resulting image was this good (couldn’t avoid the lumpy tree limb to the right, though). The rehabilitation center is free to walk through, but they take donations to help their cause.

I was researching how to spell the “hoot” sound that an owl makes and found this site here that lists superstitions associated with animals. (How in the world does one keep up with all of these superstitions?) They are from a book published in the 1920s—Kentucky Superstitions—by Daniel Lindsey Thomas and Lucy Blayney Thomas. Here are the ones I found concerning owls:

3617. If an owl hoots, someone will die. (Fortunately, this fella was a quiet one.)

3618. If an owl hoots on the top of a house, there will be a death in that household.

3619. It brings bad luck to imitate the hoot of an owl. (I must confess that I did utter, “who?” when I saw this owl, which prompted him to look me straight in the eyes. What does that mean??? Am I’m in trouble???)

3620. If an owl hoots at the door for three successive nights, the sound foretells a death in the house.

3621. An owl’s hoot about midnight is a sign that a member of the family will meet with an accident.

3622. Tie a knot in your dress or skirt to stop an owl’s hoot. (I was wearing jeans.)

3623. Avert the disaster of an owl’s hooting by turning an old shoe upside down. (Is it too late for me to turn an old shoe upside down to avert disaster?)

3624. To make an owl stop hooting, take off your left shoe and turn it over.

3625. An owl will stop hooting if you pull your shoes off and cross them.

3626. To stop an owl from hooting, turn the toes of your shoes to touch the wall. (What is it with owls and shoes?)

3627. To avert the disaster that follows the hoot of an owl, heat a poker until it is red hot. (Then what do you do with the red hot poker?)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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6 responses

13 02 2010
thekingoftexas

Great shot of a handsome owl—or depending on its gender, a beautiful owl. I have no idea how one would go about making that determination—I suppose I could google it, but I have no desire to learn—if you know, please don’t tell me. And for the record, I’ll pass on Superstition #3627 and your question concerning a red hot poker—it was tempting, but I’ll pass.

I spent a considerable amount of time on your title—Who-o-o, who-o-o, and finally realized why it fascinated me. Way back in the old days—no, even earlier than that—we used the same letters to control the forward motion of horses and mules, whether the animals were pulling some sort of conveyance or farming implement or toting (carrying) a rider. We simply added an “a” to “who,” thus transforming it to “whoa” (pronounced “woe”), then we hollered “Woe-o-o, woe-o-o—woe-o-o, damn it!”

And here’s a final thought—we used the same letters and the same pronunciation to shift the animal into reverse gear (so to speak). We simply added the word “back” and said, “Woe-o-o back, woe-o-o back—woe-o-o back, damn it!” all the while pulling gently on the reins—well, in the case of mules, not so gently.

And those are the facts, ma’am, just the facts—you may quote me on them.

I wonder how many people out there remember Dragnet, an early black-and-white television show starring Jack Webb and Ben Alexander. That law-and-order series was my very first exposure to television, viewed in an Atlanta, Georgia motel on Peach Tree street in 1952, the same year that I returned from a two-year tour of the Orient (Japan and Korea). The television was activated and kept active by inserting quarters into a coin slot mounted on the set—one quarter bought thirty minutes of viewing—if the minutes ran out in the middle of a show, a viewer had to be fast on the draw to recover the picture by inserting another quarter—not being particularly fast on the draw, I compensated for that deficiency by sitting close to the set.

I slept very little that night—I fed all my quarters to the television, and made two trips to the motel office for more quarters. I was in Atlanta to reenlist in the military, a process I completed the following day, one that was both hilarious and sad and is a subject for a future posting—stay tuned.

14 02 2010
Jan

What a lovely bird. I have always found owls to be fascinating. When we first moved into our house there was a dead tree on the neighboring property with a large hole that housed an owl. I was so sad when the tree finally had to go. We rarely hear owls now.

Jan
Always Growing

15 02 2010
Scott Thomas Photography

LOL…I hope those superstitions are just that. People must be very afraid of the owl’s sound. I find that sound very comforting myself.

When I photograph captive birds, I open up my aperture as wide as I can and focus out the cage wires. It usually works just as your photo did . Nice colors you got, too.

16 02 2010
Anthony

Then you hit the owl over the head with the red-hot poker. That is, of course, the most effective way to avoid the unfortunate effects of the owl’s hoot.

All joking aside (really, I love owls, hate animal cruelty, and think I might even be a WWF member), I have always found owls very interesting. They are often my answer to the “what animal would you be?” question, since they can fly but are less of a cliché (and seem somehow more durable). We have a nature center nearby that rehabilitates birds of prey—I should go visit sometime. Thank you, as always, for the inspiration.

17 02 2010
cindydyer

Loved your comment, Anthony. And I’m happy to be an inspiration, too!

17 02 2010
cindydyer

Loved your comment, Anthony. And I’m happy to be an inspiration!

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