Sounds in the Autumm Night

As October ends, and November begins, with the darkness coming sooner. You will be starting to hear the hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo sounds of a Great Horned Owl.  The male and female owls start call back and forth to each other. They call to find a mate or to strengthen their established bond. They will also call to mark their two-mile territory.  The female owl’s call is higher pitched in sound. She hoots seven to eight times that last about three seconds total.  While the male responses with a three and five hoot sequence, also lasting about three seconds. We hope that you will take the time to go outside to look and listen to the great horned owls in your area.

To hear some Great Horned Owl sounds visit this link: Great Horned Owl Sounds

Heckrodt is home to a few Great Horned Owls. Here is a poem written by Heckrodt volunteer, program sponsor, and wildlife photographer, Jason Fowler.  

 Early Morning Owling 

As I stepped onto the boardwalk, I took short steps to keep even pressure on the boards, hoping to stop them from crying and alerting the woodland creatures that something is advancing. 

 In the pre-daybreak darkness, the air is thick and still, songbirds are beginning to wake. Black and gray cast shadows in unique ways that let your mind stray. My heart starts beating as my eyes are racing high and low trying to trace the outline of it all. 

Then it happened, as I rounded the corner a large bird flew up from down low in the deep shadows. It saw me long before I saw it. As it flew, my heart raced, eyes widened, darting in all directions trying to make a fix on the bird, all my senses were tingling, what was it and where did it go? I stood still looking and listening and then there it was in the distance a deep soft hoot with a stuttering rhythm. 

Hoo-h Hoo-Hoo-Hoo 

It was quickly answered by a deep 

Hoo huhoo, Hoo, hooh. 

 First my eyes, then my head shot up like a rocket, all my senses trying to focus and there it was, a Great Horned Owl tucked into the leafy branches of a nearby tree, its massive talons holding it firmly on the branch. Its bright, piercing, sun-yellow eyes locked onto me. My whole being soaked up the beauty, as my eyes were wildly observing each part of this beautiful owl. 

One quickly notices its cat-like ears, they are not ears, but tufts of feathers meant to give the appearance of ears. It has intimidating piercing eyes, a white handlebar mustache running across its face and a white patch on its throat expanding with every hoot it makes. Feathers are set in precise patterns that funnel sound to the ears and blend it into the surroundings. But the talons are the business end of this magnificent owl, it has eight talons needle-sharp and up to three inches in length, able to tear open its prey in seconds. 

My spirit connected in the real-time interaction of each second that was shared. Soon the owl flew off to hide for the day waiting for the moon’s glow so it could reappear to search the woods in the hunt for the food it needed. 

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