The emphatic hoots of Barred Owls resonate in the still of a winter's night. These owls initiate their vocal courtship in winter. Their signature hooting sequence has been memorably described as "who-cooks-for-you?! who-cooks-for-you-all?!" Watch for them at dawn or dusk, as they fly low to the ground, dropping down to snatch an unwary rodent. If you find a sick or injured bird, consult a wildlife rehabilitation expert near you.
A Barred Owl Revives
By Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote!
[Selections from Tim Story’s “When Comes December”]
Winter grips the land and dawn comes late. Our house sits at the edge of a field of grasses that are limp and broken, tunneled through by voles.
I awake as two Barred Owls fly in tandem, low, by my windows, swift dark shapes against the grey and brooding light. How close they are – banking at the corner of the house.
Then, a loud and mighty smack! [Pause]
I find one owl lying on the floor of the porch, upside down beneath a window, a heap of feathers, one wing protruding, barely breathing.
Shall I cover the bird with a blanket, put it in a box and keep it warm? Has it broken a wing, cracked its beak? Or shall I keep my distance, so as not to frighten it further? I decide to hold still and watch.
Minutes pass. Then the owl rights itself and moves its head. Our eyes lock. Dazed, it sits quietly, turning its head from time to time. More minutes pass.
I leave to get my binoculars to study it more closely. When I return, (pause) it is gone. It has flown away.
Tonight, temperatures will plunge and a winter moon will illuminate the new snow.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
[Go out with Tim Story’s “When Comes December”]
Musical selection from “When Comes December” composed and played by Tim Story, on A Winter’s Solstice, Windham Hill Records.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org January 2013 Narrator: Mary McCann