Right after we moved into this house, we realized that we were sharing our trees with an owl. Neither of us knew that much about owls, but we quickly learned how totally cool they are.
Depending on the year and season, we have had as many as 4 (we think – maybe there have been more) near by. But there has been one who has persisted over the years, and though we don’t know whether it is male or female, it has been dubbed ‘Mr. Owl.’
During the first year we were here, Mr. Owl would follow us as we went with our first dog, Trey, to play in the back creek. Flying from tree to tree, he would hang out just above our heads, fascinated by the crazy things we did.
Over time we learned his calls, one is a sharp whistle that ends on an upnote. His hoot goes like this: hoo hoo ha-hooooo, except in the spring when he’s lookin for love. Then his hoot gets a decided warble at the end, crazy and filled with love-lornity: hoo hoo ha-ho-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oooooo!
Some nights we’ll hear just our owl, while on others we can hear several of them calling to each other. Not knowing much about their habits other than what we’ve observed, it seems like they are chattering rather than territory-marking. It can get pretty entertaining when several of them get going.
This spring Mr. Owl has become more friendly than ever. During the past month, several times when I’ve been out in the yard Mr. Owl is there too, in the middle of the day. He tends to perch on the lowest branches and watch the undergrowth for lunch. When I see him, I always stop so we can have a bit of a chat. He watches me intently for brief moments between looking for mousies. Sometimes he’ll settle his feathers or click his beak gently while I talk with him. But most often he is supremely unconcerned with what I’m doing, saying, or how close I manage to get to him. He seems to be un-ruffleable.
Here’s an example from Saturday
He was sitting in a new place – just a few feet off the ground in the apple tree that blossomed just last week. I took these pictures with my cell phone from the driver’s seat of my truck, as I sat there with the engine running just 4 feet from Mr. Owl (the apparent distance in the pictures is deceiving). He couldn’t care less about me or what I was doing, and no sound from me could entice him to look my way. Sometimes looking for lunch needs all your concentration, I guess.
I did tell him at the time that I thought it was a little rude that he wouldn’t even look my way so I could get a good picture of his pretty face and feathers. He didn’t seem to care much on Saturday, but I guess he heard me anyway because as I was driving off to do some errands yesterday, I found him in a cedar tree on the other side of the yard and he was more than happy to let me take some good pics.
It’s been a joy to get to know him, and over the past year to see him so often. Along with the bald eagles I spotted in our maple during the early spring, and the pileated woodpeckers that have been busy in the trees, and the as-yet unidentified hawks we have in the area, it’s been fun to get to know our bigger birds this year.