Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Talking with the Owls

We have several great horned owls that reside in the redwoods near our home. Sometimes when we're out in the back yard soaking our bones in hot water the owls start their nightly hoot fest and I've gotten pretty good at joining in the conversation. This local trio all chant the usual hoo~hoo~hoooooo.

Last night we were out in the rockers on the front porch relaxing when we heard a new voice. My husband at first thought it was our neighbor Mike messing with us. But we then we realized the sound was about 30 feet up in the redwood, not Mike.

I read up a little on Great Horned Owls when we came in. This is the beginning of the courting season for these magnificent creatures of the night. We think it is a female, because the hoot is deeper than that of the resident owls.

Heart Hill Forest

Each time she hooted I answered back. She started with a deep hoo~hoo, then a hoo~hoo~hooooo, then hoo~hoo~hoo~hoo. This went on for a bit and then we were totally caught off guard by a series of different cadences that I repeated back (according to the reseach it isn't unusual for them to have a repertoire, but we'd  never heard these before). This "conversation" lasted about 5 minutes. The owl either didn't realize I wasn't another owl or was indeed playing with me. Her last response sounded like a hooted wolf whistle.

Perhaps she is new to the neighborhood or it's a young one finding it's voice. But whatever the story we were delighted by the magic of the experience. We are so lucky to live out in the country.