A couple of owls

Sometime over the last 10 years or so, owls have moved into our neighborhood. Maybe they've always been here, but before then I wasn't paying enough attention to the natural world around me, but I don't think so. I've always been quite observant of nature, so I think it's more just a matter of getting enough "good" trees around here -- trees that owls would find attractive to nest in.

Besides the trees in the yards, there's a small forested area a few houses down the street from me, and that's the key -- that's where the owls live. (It's also where the deer often go, but that's nothing to do about owls.)


Although this post is about a couple of great horned owls, we also have barred owls here. Great horned owls have a nice "classic" hooty call, and it's quite loud and penetrating. I'll hear it when I'm in the basement with all of the doors and windows closed, and in the summer when the windows are open? Let's just say an owl perched outside your window at 3:00 AM is not something you'll sleep through.

Anyway, I watched this particular owl for a few minutes, and had the video camera going. (I still get excited about owls whenever I see them, and always grab a camera.) He was happily hooting away at the top of my almost-dead black locust tree, and then he saw something:

He hooted a little more forcefully, then flew off:

Or so I thought. I was a bit surprised about what happened next, but caught it on video. (The video quality isn't the best as it was getting quite dark out and I was shooting through the window. There is no sound in this clip because of that.)

It was over so quickly, it was one of those "right place at the right time" events that must be going on all the time.

Back in November I caught what may have been these same two birds in my neighbor's tree:

The male was hooting, but the female (I think) was screeching loudly. It was an incredibly annoying sound, and it went on for 20 minutes.

He saw me come out onto the deck

I also got some video of that encounter, which was just calling -- neither bird moved from its chosen branch while I was watching. So this video is more for the sound than the visuals:

As I said, I get really excited when I hear or see an owl, probably because I don't encounter them too often. I think the only bird I'd be more excited to see in my yard would be 1) a bald eagle,  2) a turkey, or 3) a turkey vulture. Each of these is possible for our area, but unlikely in my suburban yard.

I'll take owls as a "consolation prize" though. Even at 3:00 AM.

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Steve Lau  – (January 25, 2011 at 3:44 PM)  

I've seen owls once in a while, but you really need to be up early in the morning.

Here's a picture of a turkey I've taken which is a pretty rare occurrence around here.

Alan  – (January 25, 2011 at 4:26 PM)  

Steve - I see the owls early morning, but also early evening when it's just getting dark. I suppose I'd see them at night too if I had some night-vision goggles. ;-)

I think that photo you posted is of a turkey vulture -- maybe that's what you wanted to type.

anne  – (January 25, 2011 at 4:42 PM)  

Awesome owls! I saw a great horned once at dusk but I could see the outline of the ears. Here's a post from the landscape designer I work for when we had a male turkey visit us. We see female turkeys (up to 14 at a time) in our neighborhood often. They are never in a hurry....


Alan  – (January 25, 2011 at 4:48 PM)  

Anne - I've always thought I'd love to have a turkey walking around my yard, but not so sure now. Those Toms are HUGE (but beautiful).

There was a female turkey hanging out in the neighborhood this summer, but she never made it to my yard.

Steve Lau  – (January 25, 2011 at 5:04 PM)  

Yep, its a turkey vulture, but it really looks like a turkey eh

anne  – (January 25, 2011 at 6:39 PM)  

So right Alan! The turkey was definitely impressive - huge and a little scary. It was on a mission to find the female that was wandering in another yard! I have a photo of 11 females in our backyard I can email you if you'd like to see it but their coloring is incredibly drab compared to the males....

GrowingHabit –   – (January 25, 2011 at 7:57 PM)  

Hoooo, now, careful what you wish for. Turkeys are as damaging as the proverbial herd of elephants. People around here- that don't garden- feed the turkeys. We get giant groups of them, uncountable numbers. The toms are belligerent. When they're all traveling together, they won't get out of the way of a car, and will actually attack it, during breeding season. One of my friends fed the turkeys for a time, and ended up having to start shooting, because so many moved in and roosted on the house at night, they near buried it under.... white streaks. They root up everything, looking for grubs and bugs.

Now the owls- love those! I have one that's taken up residence in my garden, that hunts during the day, standing on the ground. He waits very patiently in the flower beds for anything furry to move. Which I appreciate tremendously! Cutest little thing. Forgot which species and my book is too far away to go get right now. Or I'm too lazy... :)

Alan  – (January 25, 2011 at 9:54 PM)  

That sounds like the Canadian geese around here. Although I don't think they visit yards, they do hang out in large flocks in parking lots and will slowly make their way across the parking lot and major streets, blocking traffic as they go.

On the ground, during the day -- is it a Burrowing Owl?

GrowingHabit –   – (January 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM)  

Yes, I do believe that's it. A Burrowing Owl. I almost drove off my driveway the first time I was pulling in and spotted him sitting there.

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