Saturday, October 12, 2013

owls and a mournful call

great horned owl

I saw an owl tonight, actually two of them.

It started on a bike ride heading north from my house to town, I had been writing about owls all day and my head was swimming with owl imagery and thoughts, the tape loop still grinding away as I rode the bike trail. It was a gray afternoon and for the first time this fall, it was starting to feel cold. The area along the bike path is mostly open flat horse pasture. At one point as I rode along I heard a mournful harsh squawking. I looked up to the telephone poles to see what it might be. I am an okay birder, and it sounded like it might be a hawk, but my mind thought owl. The squawk was ringing out at very defined intervals, perhaps once every 20 seconds or so. It was coming from a cluster of cottonwoods, all rusty gold with the season.

I got off my bike, walked through the dry grass to the barbed wire fence and stayed still looking and listening. The squawking seemed so sad, and it continued at steady intervals, but I didn’t see anything. It was definitely coming from that set of trees, but whatever bird was making the noise was hidden from my view. I got back on the bike and continued to town.

On the way back from, now riding south, I heard the same sound again, and this time I saw a bird on the back side of this stand of trees. No way to tell what it might be from that distance so I set my bike down again and walked up to the same barbed wire fence but a few hundred yards north from where I stood earlier.

The squawking continued and I could see the outline of the body and it sure looked like an owl. I shimmied under the fence and walked towards it to get a better look.

I had spent the day writing about the owls heightened ability to see and hear, so I was hyper aware that there was no way I could sneak up on it. I got fairly close and in the steely twilight I realized I was looking at a great horned owl.

All this time it continued that melancholy squawking at a steady interval. As i stood below it, I heard a faint response off to the west. The owl in the tree near me would squawk loudly, and just a second later I would hear the exact same call but way off in the distance. At first I wondered if it was an echo, but that would be unlikely in this big open terrain.

I turned my head for a few seconds to see where the faint noise might be coming from, and in that moment the owl dropped off the tree. When I looked back the owl was in flight, coasting slowly with what seemed to be impossibly large wings given that she only looked to be about a foot tall in the tree.

I watched her drop down to the hug the ground level and I lost sight of her as dipped low. Eventually I saw her reappear and alight on a big hay barn about a quarter of a mile from where I stood. Seconds later I saw another owl land on that same barn and one or the other of them took off. When I walked back to my bike there was only one owl on that barn.

Curiously, that was the very same barn where I had my picture taken with a great horned owl. This happened last summer, and I wrote about it, and the follow up synchronicity here. And equally curious the owl was doing some of the things I had just been writing about. Dropping from tree branches, flying oddly slow and hugging the ground as it flew.

I got home and search out that mournful screech, you can hear it on this page, about half way down a set of audio players. The audio is titled: Female squawk. This is an exact match, including the length of the interval between calls. It’s because of this that I am referring to this owl as a she.

This post comes the day after a posting a series of extremely bizarre owl sychronicities, involving driveways and laundry, linked here.

Text added Oct. 13th, the following day from the post above

I feel pretty sure I saw two owls today, both of them were quite far away.  I am saying they were probably owls by the chubby barrel shape of their bodies. One was on the same hay barn as I wrote about yesterday. The other was in a tree. I saw them while driving. Not much to say, I feel like the ones way off in the distance don't have much synchro-resonance. That said, four in two days is a lot.


Karen Totten said...

I recently moved back to western NY and live in a small cabin in the woods.I often hear owls here.

Red Pill Junkie said...

I like the idea of that big gray owl being a 'she' :)