Saturday, June 18, 2011

Napoleon and the Owl

It was on a Sunday, June 18, 1815, that Napoleon Bonaparte met his Waterloo.

The little owl couple reestablished their claim to the apple tree. They had nested there the previous year and terrorized the avian residents throughout the neighborhood.

Napoleon had been terrorizing Europe from his position as Emperor of France. Although he had been forced into exile on Elba, less than a year later he escaped and returned to Paris and reestablished his control of the French armies.

The birds in the neighborhood had had enough. It was a late spring day, bright and sunny when Owl wandered out of the tree and the birds immediately attacked. It was a veritable "Coalition of Birds," consisting of robins, blue jays, starlings, a cardinal, and even some sparrows.

The Seventh Coalition consisting of the United Kingdom, Prussia, Russia, and Austria, determined to rid themselves of the French threat. These forces and Napoleon's were facing off at Waterloo.

Though it may have been interfering with nature, I rescued the battered, bloodied and half-blinded owl and exiled him to a cage in my yard in an effort to save it. It died.

Though it may have interfered with manifest destiny, Napoleon's life was spared and he was exiled to St. Helena. But he died six years later.

Perhaps my efforts on behalf of Owl appear to interfere with nature. Don't forget that I, too, am an element in the natural world, and my actions were in keeping with my nature.

Perhaps Napoleon's defeat was the end of divine right of kings in France, for though Louis XVIII was given the throne, things were never again as they once were.

Wellington and Blucher suffered 22,000 casualties, Napoleon 25,000 plus 8,000 taken prisoner.

The birds fared better. Well, except for the Owl.

Image: by permission of the artist. Thanks, Jamie.Sources:
BBC History
Personal observation in my backyard.
© 2011 David W. Lacy


Vee said...

Great combined history and nature lesson. It's hard for me to feel sorry about either situation. While spending time in Hoosierland, sometimes at night an owl would seem to come out of nowhere and dive down at me as I walked across campus. He would bonk me on the head and then fly away. He apparently thought he was protecting his turf, but that experience made me dislike owls - a lot!

Secondary Roads said...

I like the way you weave the two stories together.

vanilla said...

Vee, thank you. No wonder you dislike owls! I have been attacked by a redwing blackbird and by a barn swallow, but then I was encroaching.

Chuck, thanks. I had fun writing this one.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Aw... I've tried to rescue a number of birds. Most endings haven't been very good either.

vanilla said...

Shark, I've generally failed at my efforts to "save" birds, too. Not much of a nurse, I guess.