Whoo, Hoo, Hooo’s Home?

by Aden Troyer | Apr 1, 2024 | 0 comments

Owls are a fascinating family of birds. Most of them hunt at night and roost in some secluded spot during daylight hours. They are often heard but seldom seen, especially the woodland dwellers.

This was the spring for the owls here at our home. The three screech owl boxes scattered around our house were all used throughout winter into spring. Their young have fledged and are now hunting around our house almost every night.

One evening in early April, we heard the long “Whooo” call of a Long-Eared Owl several times. The following night we heard its catlike screams. I looked all through the dense evergreens in the hollow between our house and Davids’, but I couldn’t locate any Long-Eared Owls.

Several weeks later, our grandson Andrew announced, “Hey, I just flushed a large owl from those pines below our house. Would you help me find it again? I just couldn’t identify it for sure.”

I agreed, but decided our elevated porch was perhaps the best vantage point. I watched while Andrew eased through the thicket. Just as he entered the evergreens, I spotted a large bird flying to a tall pine only 40 yards/meters from where I stood—a Barred Owl.

When Andrew appeared, I motioned him to circle and join me on our porch. That Barred Owl was perched in dense branches next to the trunk, its mottled plumage blending in very well. But the Blue Jays and grackles soon found it and raised a royal fuss. The owl simply ignored all the noise for maybe fifteen minutes till they left him in peace.

It stayed in that tree all afternoon, and everyone got great looks through our spotting scope. Just before dark the owl started preening, stretched its wings and legs a few times, then silently flew away, and we haven’t seen it since.

Barred Owl. Photo © Dogwood Ridge.

Two weeks later on a Sunday afternoon when we’d just arrived home, my wife was walking toward our house when she suddenly stopped and motioned for me to come. “Come quick,” she said. “I just flushed an owl out of that hickory tree.” As I approached, she said, “There it goes again.” That time it flew into a pine tree 20 yards/meters farther away. A Barn Owl! Where that bird came from and why it was perched in a tree less than 10 feet (3 m) from our house, we’ll probably never know. We did focus our scope on it until the Blue Jays, grackles, and orioles harassed it into moving again.

One week later on Sunday morning, the crows were very upset at something maybe 200 yards/meters away. It was time to leave for church services, and we forgot about the crows until we arrived home.

When we returned home, we soon heard them again directly behind our house, all screaming in crow language at something which, by the sound of things, they must surely have hated.

About then a grandson popped out of the tree line saying, “Grandpa, come look at this owl.” Binoculars in hand, I joined him, and there within sight of our porch was a Great Horned Owl!

That made five species of owls on our property in less than two months, and four of them were visible from our house.

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