Yesterday, while getting dinner ready, I happened to look out my kitchen window while washing my hands at the sink. Our backyard slopes upward and at the top of our yard to the right are some woods. I called my husband to come look out the window as there was a rather large white-tailed deer just beyond the edge of the woods grazing. We stood there and watched as seven more does slowly walked out of the woods and into our yard to graze. I think eight is a record for our little backyard (at one time). They grazed awhile and slowly ambled back into the woods.
Two days ago (at dusk) we were walking in the neighborhood when my husband looked up and straining to see better said, “Look, is that a hawk or an owl?” My eyes gazed way up into the tree and there was the most beautiful gray Great Horned Owl. He looked rather Halloween-regal sitting there staring down at us in the darkened gray skeleton like limbs of the tree— his body gradually turning shadowy like in the increasing dimness of the approaching night. He was making soft little hoot chatters under his breath. I think he was letting us know he was uncomfortable with our presence. On our second lap, he was nowhere to be seen.
I have seen many owls in our yard and neighborhood but this was the first time I had ever seen a Great Horned owl and I was quite excited. Years ago, we used to have a barn owl who would come and perch on our basketball goal at the edge of the driveway at night. He was mostly whitish in color like the owl in the photo below, and we named him Hedwig (my sons were really into Harry Potter at the time).
Hedwig swooped down off that basketball goal one night in pursuit of my cat when I let the cat out the garage door (have you ever seen a grown woman chase after an owl in the middle of the night while flailing her arms wildly)? Bigfoot thankfully escaped by running under a little decorative wooden bridge we have by our driveway but this encounter forever ended his little nightly constitutional. Hedwig frequently used to leave owl pellets under our basketball goal and I was known to take the dried out gray pellets and dissect them from time to time. It was always interesting to see the mice skulls and other little bones in the pellet. Hedwig ate very well and seemed to have a well-rounded diet. He finally quit coming around and I sorta missed that ole owl.
We have tall pine trees which border the back and one side of our yard. We often have barred owls sit in those trees at night and yell their mating calls to each other.
I love to listen to them but they can get very loud! Sometimes in the spring and summer, I have to get up and close our bedroom window due to their loud calling. For some reason, 3 am seems to be their prime time.
I remember the night many years ago when our boys were young and in cub scouts and we decided to have a family camp out in the backyard. I was kept awake all night by a little screech-owl. For such a little guy, he sure had a spooky sounding voice. His whinnies and trills sounded rather ghost-like.
Ever tried to sleep with a screech-owl around? I told my husband between the tree root digging in my back all night, the serenading by Mr.Screech owl, and the neighbor’s barking Labrador Retriever, there wasn’t much sleeping that night for me. I decided backyard camping’s for the birds… pun intended.