Thursday, May 25, 2006

A feathered visitor

"There's a bird on the second floor, did you hear?" says Ari, our landlord. We are very spoiled, because Ari speaks excellent English.

"No, what kind?" I say, expecting a sparrow or a pigeon.

"It eats mice. You know. It says hoo, hoo."

"An OWL? There are owls in Jakarta? How can an owl live in Jakarta? We want an owl!" I blurbled.

Ari took me down to the parking area under the building. We climbed up onto the back wall. Sure enough, craning my neck, I could see an owl tucked up under the roof of the balcony, dozing.

"Do you think we could train him to eat ants?" I asked. An owl could raise a large extended family on ants in our apartment.

Ari shook his head. "I called the zoo to come get him."

But the zoo never arrived. Our avian guest departed sometime toward evening. I'm thinking of putting some plastic mice on the balcony, just in case he comes around again.

Perhaps my famous bird-artist brother John, who's in The New Yorker Magazine this week, would care to make a long (very long) distance ID? Based on my almost useless photo?


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!

How do the Indonesians say that?

I hope the owl returns today.


Raiyen said...

I spent almost all my childhood in Jakarta, and I can tell you that there are many owls in Jakarta, especially in some of the not so crowded suburbs.

My uncle used to catch two of the birds, usually just for kids amusement, before he let them go.

Your post has brought back my childhood memories, thanks.

kopisusu2 said...

Thanks, Adam! I have to admit I don't know how to say happy birthday, although I think "Selamat hari ulang tahun" would do the trick. Kind of a mouthful, though, eh?

No sign of further owl visitations I'm afraid.

Thanks for your comment, Raiyen! Where are you living now? Do you ever get back to Jakarta? How did your uncle catch owls?

Raiyen said...

I live in Melbourne now. I will definitely go back to Jakarta someday, don't know when. Melbourne is just too "organized" for me (haha :D )

And how my uncle catched those owls? I don't know, he never told me. I guess he had his own special trick :)

mr_john said...

Selamat Ulang Tahun...

Actually, your landlord's reaction is interesting. Owls are harbingers of death according to Indonesian superstition. They're called burung hantu, or ghost bird.

Normally when people see them they shoo them away as soon as possible...

ks2 said...

That's interesting, John. I think my landlord, who's an architect, prides himself on being well-educated and modern. He tends to distance himself from folk beliefs.

Personally, I don't understand how something as cool as an owl could be considered bad luck. Especially if they make any kind of dent in Jakarta's enormous rodent population. But I think there's a similar phenomenon in other cultures.

No further owl sightings yet, but I've been in Yogya for the last few days.