Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Close Encounters of the Owl Kind

Two weeks ago, Tiny Girl and I were headed to her riding lesson when she cried out, “An owl!” I hit the brakes and reversed the car. There, in a tree just a few yards away, perched a rather large owl, staring at us while we stared back. I only had my phone with me, so I took a couple of (sadly unsatisfactory) photos before it soared away. After some rsearch at the library, I identified our owl as a barred owl. Here are some Wikipedia photos that put mine to shame. Note the dark eyes and yellow beak. We could clearly see those in our close encounter.
It was a nifty sighting, but a few summers ago, Himself and I had an even closer encounter with another owl. For several daysthat summer, we'd been hearing this strange whistling, hissing call and had no idea what it could be. A neighbor’s dad, who was visiting, identified it as an owl. And here I was thinking owls only said, “Who?”

A few nights later, at about 10:30, Himself and I were engaged in a highly competitive game of Scrabble when we heard that same call. “Let’s go look for it!” Himself suggested. Grabbing a flashlight, we headed outside.

Himself waved the flashlight at the tops of the trees. The eerie hissing whistle continued, tantalizingly close, but the owl remained hidden. A few moments later, we heard a whoosh of air and a big rustle of leaves on the ground to our right. We swung the flashlight beam that way. And there it was: a large barn owl, not five feet away. We stared at each other for a few seconds before it lifted off, silently, back up into the treetops. Here are some photos of barn owls, so you can see the difference.

We haven't heard any barn owls for at least two summers. I miss that hissing whistle.


  1. How lovely... both types of owls look incredible.

  2. It's just like this wonderful gift to hear those creatures. So majestic - we know - even if we don't see them. I was blessed with hearing a great-horned owl nightly all through the summer my third was an infant. I'd sit by the window and listen for our backyard owl :) Sweet memories!

    I've sure been enjoying your summer adventures Ellen! I have a blog award for you over on Hodgepodge:


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