Last night I sat in my backyard and noticed I was just a few feet from this creature.
I hear owls occasionally, and I'm sure I've seen a couple swoop by overhead, but I've never seen one in repose and certainly never gotten this close. I wanted to get another picture with the face fully visible, but the flash must have bothered it. Plus, the truth is I was a little scared. When I first saw it in the dusk light I thought it was a lump of debris with eyes. When I realized it was living, it looked alien enough to fill my imagination with horror scenes. It resembled something out the movie "Gremlins" as much as any common creature I'd ever layed eyes on before, and so I couldn't fully trust that it wouldn't grab my face and turn me into a zombie.
That's one of the things I like about the woods. As peaceful as they may seem, with singing birds and calm swaying shadows, there's always an underlying potential for danger.
I hope I didn't drive it too far away, since I need something around to pose a danger to some of the other nocturnal creatures I've seen scuttling around.