Stockholm Syndrome For Birdwatchers – Amanda McLeod

It just seemed to start happening more and more. I think I began to notice when they appeared in places and numbers that seemed…odd. I mean, an owl in your barn is totally normal. Thirty-seven of them lined up on your back fence is not. Owls in the homewares department of Target is not normal. Real ones, I mean, not ones embroidered on cushions. Ones that watched me. That followed.

Those amber eyes, so many sets of them, unblinking in the night. I had to keep the blinds closed so I could sleep. I tried to explain them away. Once you start feeding them, they follow you everywhere. I could just pretend I was eccentric until they started perching on the top of my computer monitor at work. After two weeks, my boss suggested I work from home for a while. The relief was a warm bath.

They were there day and night, unnatural for nocturnes, closer and closer. There were feathers in my bed, and dessicated piles of small bones appeared in the corners of rooms. The owls were settling in. Their eyes became comforting, their hoots a reassurance. I slept easier in their presence. We know, they seemed to say. We’ve always known.

Amanda McLeod is slowly learning to say yes to less in Canberra, Australia. She’s usually covered in ink or paint and enjoys crafting art and words, which you can find in places like The Canberra Tales and Stone of Madness Press. Her debut flash collection Animal Behaviour is available now from Chaffinch Press, and you can read more at

Image via Pixabay

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