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Owl! Owl! Where are you?

“Sir, I told you there are owls in this school campus,” a student exclaimed after having caught sight of this beautiful bird standing idle on one of the branches of a badam tree just outside the school campus.
Spotted Owlet
We were doing a count of all the birds on campus, or what we called the Campus Bird Count, in one of the government schools in Puducherry with primary school students.

Initially, there was a discussion amongst the students about the birds they were familiar with and where they had seen them. Students were very enthusiastic and were sharing their encounters,

“I have seen many parrots on the tree.”
“I have seen peacocks on the farm”
“Crows are everywhere”
“I have seen pigeons on the electric cable”
“I have seen owls in the school”
“Owls?” I was surprised and checked with the teacher.
“Though I have not seen it myself, I've heard people say that there are owls here within the campus,” the teacher said.
“Don’t worry sir, I will show it to you. There are a lot of owls here,” the student replied enthusiastically.
“Sure. How big is it?” I tried to picture the type of species.
“They are small Sir, but very beautiful,” his eyes dazzled.
“Sir, he says this to us all the time but it's not true,” interrupted some boys.

A few students in the class think that it is a myth but there are others who are very sure that there are owls in the school because they claim to have seen them. One mentioned that the elder students in the school used to chase away the bird as they consider it a bad omen or ghost. 

Most of the time, students used to spot the bird during the school assembly.

As we were contemplating over the owl, a wasp entered the classroom and was struggling to find a way out. It came close to me and I tried to push it away by waving my hand. Immediately, there was a ruckus in the classroom.

One girl shouted, “Sir, don’t hurt him.”
Another one said, “Sir, stay still and don’t disturb him. He will find a way out”.
“Sir, move aside and leave him,” exclaimed another.

I also saw two boys running towards the wall and switching off the fan. In a few seconds, the wasp flew out.

It all happened in a minute and I was absolutely stunned. Trust me, it was quite a scene. I turned around to see the teacher, who looked happy and calm.

Maybe she is familiar with such instances. Or maybe she is the one who is responsible for this, I wondered.

We hit the ground to carry on with our Campus Bird Count. Students were scattered around the school ground, spotting and counting birds. It was noon so there wasn’t much diversity amongst the birds, there were only crows. Yet students were hopping from place to place counting them.

“They enjoy outdoor activities more than anything else,” said the teacher after watching her elated students.
He didnt get the binocular and it didnt bother him as he made his own
“Sir, there is something moving on the branches,” interrupted a little girl.

I took a closer look with my binoculars. It looked tiny, flitting from across branches on top of the raintree.

“There it is,” she said, and the little girl directed her friends to gather around me, pointing at the branches. It was neither me nor the bird but the binoculars that engrossed them. They were all waiting for their turn to look through the fancy and attractive binoculars, which they had not seen before.
One group trying to get a better look of warbler on the branches
“It looks like a warbler but not sure.” I told them still beholding the binoculars.
When I looked down, I saw a group of kids just swarming around me eyeing the binocular. Their glittering eyes looked hungry for a new adventure, which at that point was viewing their own school campus through the binoculars.

In a flash, I saw 20 different arms wanting the binocular. Watching me helpless and confused, the teacher stepped in and came for support, “Alright, one at a time,” she intervened.

She effortlessly managed the kids and let them use it one by one without any conflict.

Meanwhile, there was another group near the wall, where some of the boys tried peeping out of the hole.
Children watching through a hole on the compound wall
I went close and heard them whispering, there is something very still on the branch.

Look, it’s there!
Is it a doll or an actual bird?
Hey look, it’s rotating the head. 
The face has gone to its back now. 
Oh my God, an owl!

I tried getting in between them to steal a view, but it wasn’t that easy. They were incredibly strong or maybe I was simply too weak.

“It’s visible from here sir,” screamed another boy. I turned around to see him standing alone, yards away from the wall. The ground was slightly elevated there, and he could get a better view. And of course, there was the binocular.

Yeah, right!

As I rushed there, I saw a spotted owlet landing on top of a dead tree. The branch was hollow and so it went in before I could get a closer look. I was really devastated.

I left the spot for nothing, it started hitting myself. Yet the boys looked glued to the spot near the wall and so did the one who called me.

The one on the branches was still there.

“It is a spotted owlet,” I confirmed after looking through the binocular. It was standing there motionless; small, ash in colour with numerous visible dots all around the body. Its eyes occupied most of the space in its head and looked adorable.

“I don’t see why a bird as beautiful as this is compared to an evil spirit.” wondered the teacher.

And then it screamed, loud and harsh, with a very strong gurgling sound.
Everyone stood rooted to the spot as it came from nowhere and the teacher looked at me with a mystified expression and said, “Now I do.”
Listen to the spotted owlet call here - Xeno Canto
- an excerpt from the bird watching session happened at one of the government schools in  Puducherry with curious little kids (primary).

Photo credit - Vimal
Owl Sketch - Athira


  1. Loved it.. keep doing....keep inspiring

  2. ஆந்தையைப் பார்த்தல் அதிசியமானது, அதிலும் இவ்வளவு ஆர்ப்பாட்டத்துக்கிடையில் ஆந்தையை பார்த்த அனுபவம் சுவாரஸ்யமாக இருக்கிறது கெளதம் ....மகிழ்ச்சி....

  3. Anything about that wasp? Why the students were saving and let it go.

    1. Actually the children are very sensitive towards the insects that whenever something enters the classroom they go crazy to save them. Thanks for asking this.

  4. Good one... Gautham. The narration was good and the entry of Wasp and the students reaction towards it was well depicted.. .. .Keep doing your good work. ... Of course observing nature 🌿🍃and putting them in words always gives the nature lovers a good feeling. ... Good Work.

  5. Good one Patshinadan, keep rocking, ஆந்தை உலகத்திற்கு அழைத்து சென்றதுக்கு நன்றிகள் பல😊

  6. Good Narration and excellent presentation. Highlight more about its ecological role,significance and few lines about conservation strategies would be benificial for the readers. Overall it is a good arricle.

    1. Glad you liked it. Yah it's good to put those things as well. Since it's a children's story I made it simple. I'll keep this in mind for the next one.

  7. Very nice Gautam. Beautiful narration. So impressed with the curiosity and kindness of the kids. :)

    1. Children are just amazing indeed. A lot to learn from them. Thanks for the comments.


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