A sleeping animal naturally invokes feelings of tenderness. We rarely see unknown or wild animals sleeping. Our house pets and pasture friends know us to be allies that would do them no harm, thus allowing us to this intimacy. But our mere presence stirs wild animals to alertness and prevents them from the total relaxation required to let their minds turn off and enter the other whelm that sleep induces.
Our web camera and infrared light give us a special glimpse into the world of the two beautiful ospreys that occupy the Dunrovin nest. It is a privilege to catch them at their most vulnerable, to stealthy watch as their chests and feathers silently rise and fall with each unhurried, rhythmic breath.
My own midnight stirring recently took me from by bed to casually check on Harriet with the camera. They she was with rain drops neatly formed on her feathers, totally at peace, keeping her two eggs snug and warm under her body as she slept. I could not help but wonder what images drifted through her mind and what strange osprey stories formed in her dream world. In many ways, her last few nights of incubating her eggs are much like the final days of a woman’s pregnancy. The calm before the storm of caring for young ensues. Does she know this? Does she await the events that are soon to take place? How can we think that she would not understand and anticipate the hatching of her eggs, the caring of her chicks, and the struggles that will soon engulf both her and Hal as they strive to feed and teach their young.
If I have learned anything from watching these ospreys so closely for the last five years, it is that the life of an osprey is no less complex, no less paradoxical, and no less a jumble of nature and nurture threads that would be impossible to unravel than is our own human existence. They are a marvel to be studied, and ultimately to be revered. They pull us into the fabric of our own primal selves and remind us from whence we came and who we are. Our sleep is not less rhythmic than theirs. We are no less vulnerable. We are no less vigilant in the presence of the unknown. We are made from the same organic molecules, seek the same necessities of life, and rejoice in the same accomplishments of raising our families. We are as one with the ospreys.
SuzAnne Miller is the owner of Dunrovin Ranch. A fourth-generation Montanan, SuzAnne grew up roaming the mountains and fishing the streams of western Montana. Her love of nature, animals, science, and education prompted her to create the world’s first cyber ranch where live web cameras bring Dunrovin’s wildlife and ranch life to internet users across the globe.
You can find her blog at: http://dunrovinranchmontana.com/blog/