I’ve been birdwatching

One of my hobbies is birdwatching, and I’ve been making careful observations of a bird perched on the corner of a building about a half-block from my apartment. I’ve identified it as the Common Bobblehead Owl, Caput nutans imitator bubonis.

It’s a faux horned owl; generic brown, white, and buff plumage; glaring yellow eyes; plastic. Height: 14.5 inches plus base; wingspan unknown. Voice: silent. Habits: stationary; head rotates in wind. Prey: gardeners and property owners. Does not reproduce; must be replaced. Worldwide distribution; origin China; migration aided by Walmart and by vendors on Amazon.

I first noticed the bobblehead roosting on the ledge late last year after some maintenance work on the building’s roof. So far, the faux owl has caused no change to the habits of the neighborhood birds, who didn’t frequent that roof anyway, although I recently observed pigeons landing nearby on the ledge to stare inquisitively. Bobblehead observers in Australia have noticed similar effects.

For me, the little sculpture adds a philosophic note to the daily view from my window of the traffic, trees, roofs, and sky. I see pugnacious crows, soaring hawks and falcons, migrating geese, busy songbirds, and flocks of idle pigeons. The bobblehead owl was meant to serve a purpose that wasn’t needed and isn’t being fulfilled. Vanity of vanities.


Note: Yes, caput nutans means “bobblehead” in Latin. I looked it up.

Photo: I don’t own a real camera with a zoom lens. Instead, I have a little telescope, and I took the photos by holding my mobile phone to the eyepiece. Turned out pretty good, I think.

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