Great Horned Owl

great horned owl

This about captures what I saw...

A little natural history for you tonight.

A Great Horned Owl is in a tree outback tonight.  I leave one of my bedroom windows open at night and I am glad I do.  The cold air is great for sleeping and occasionally you discover something nice in the city…like an owl.  I wonder what he could be calling for this time of the year.  It is a very nice sound, especially in the city.

This isn’t nesting season for owls, but I hope that hearing the owl outside now is a good omen for the coming year.  They usually nest in February or March.  The trees here have plenty of old squirrels nests and hollows for an owl.  Perhaps this owl will hang around and find this place suitable for settling down when the time comes.  Plenty of owl food around here, that’s for certain. 

When I was a kid we would find owl pellets scattered beneath a large dense spruce tree in our backyard.  They were very odd wads of mouse fur and skeletons about the size of a little boy’s thumb and looked as if the owl had sucked everything that wasn’t fur and bones and spit out the rest.  (He wasn’t spitting, we found out`.)  Great Horned Owls can eat 4,000 mice a year.  I don’t recall hearing that owl very often, but it was there.

I went outside tonight to see if I could get a look at the owl now that there are not any leaves on the tree.  He hooted hoo hoot hoo hoo on a pretty consistent interval, but when I got below his tree, the hooting stopped.  I thought I could hear some other clicking sounds again, but that might have been dry branches hitting each other in the wind. 

I did see the owl.  There is not much to report.  There is just enough overcast tonight to capture the ambient light of the city.   The owl was a dark silhouette that moved slightly once or twice.  Earlier this year the bird flew off when I was looking for him in the tree, and while I could not see the owl in the dark, I could hear it and that was an impressive sound.  I decided not to wait for the owl this time; I seemed to have disrupted his routine well enough as it is.  And I was getting cold.  So I came back inside, but haven’t yet heard the owl again.

I do hear a few ducks on the lake, however.  Shouldn’t they be heading for Louisiana?

Great Horned Owl

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