Connections: with Wildlife and Nature
Connections is a wildlife rehabilitation memoir by Cindy Kamler that chronicles her journey and wild experiences. The book follows Cindy from her early connections with nature and wildlife, along a formative mid-life trip around the world, and into the Eastern Sierra where she currently directs the wildlife rehabilitation center that she founded. Fascinated by the animals she helps and the natural environments she experiences, Cindy weaves poetry throughout this narrative. Called to share her passion for wildlife with people of all ages, Connections also contains five tales for kids that are based on actual wildlife rescues.
Connections is the story of Cindy Kamler, an inspiring community leader in wildlife care and rehabilitation. This is a compelling wildlife rehabilitation memoir for anyone who loves wildlife, the natural world, and real-life heroines.
- Print length: 316 pages
- Weight: 14.3 ounces
- Dimensions: 5.5 X 0.79 X 8.5 inches
Paperback: $16.95 available at independent bookstores and Amazon.
A Family of Owls
The great horned owls—mysterious, elusive—are in my awareness whenever I walk the eucalyptus-crowned hill. In the moments between day and night, here among the tall, fragrant trees, is where I hear and, less frequently, see them. This tiny urban “wilderness” is a five-minute drive from my home. I come once or twice a week to watch red fox, great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, kestrels, mule deer, and songbirds galore. I am certain that the owls raised young the previous year because one dark autumn evening I was startled by the eerie, grating call of a juvenile owl as I felt my way down the steep trail. I never discovered the location of the nest despite diligent searching.
Now it’s early June and, if the life-bonded pair has raised another brood, the fluffy young should soon be venturing from their nest. I’ve narrowed my search for the nest to one area of the hilltop. Late the previous winter, I had heard red-shouldered hawks there, calling in agitation. Great horned owls do not build nests, so they would need to take over an existing one from unwitting hawks or squirrels. Nest-stealing owls may have been the cause of the hawks’ distress, but my neck-straining search did not reveal the well-hidden nest.
The sun is low on the western horizon; the eucalyptus trees thrust into the brilliant blue sky more than one hundred feet from the hill’s crown, the sun’s rays gilding the tops of the trees and setting the dangling clumps of leaves and bark into clear relief. Still no sign of the owls. Gently a special sense or intuition nudges me, and I turn. Looking back down the fire road, my eyes are drawn to a high, sunlit branch. My heart stops, and I hold my breath. I see an adult owl perched there, two downy gray balls pressed against her breast.
Feelings of gratitude and awe flow as the hidden life of the owls opens to me. I want to jump up and down with excitement, but I restrain myself and move quietly toward the threesome. I frequently stop to gaze raptly through my binoculars, noting that the owls had come from the direction of the suspected nest area. The eyes of the two fledglings are closed as if they are sleeping, but the mother’s round golden eyes rarely leave me. As I draw closer, the youngsters open their eyes, and all three watch me with great interest but no signs of unease.
Great horned owls breed in late winter. In cold climates, snow often covers the incubating bird. Incubation lasts from twenty-six to thirty-five days. Thirty-five days more pass before the young leave the nest or “fledge.” Since these owls have traveled several hundred yards from their nest tree, I guess they fledged four or five days earlier and are now about six weeks old.
I linger for a long time, watching the beautiful and miraculous tableau Mother Nature has created. The young ones soon lose interest, and their eyes slowly close. I could have stayed forever, but I take my leave, fearing to stress the mother owl by lingering any longer…
Cindy Kamler heads Wildcare Eastern Sierra, a wildlife rehabilitation center near Bishop California, in the rugged Eastern Sierra Nevada. Learn more at: https://www.eswildcare.org