The Artist and I have been playing pretend empty-nesters the last few days, while the Glimmer Twins have been busy visiting family. We've been indulging in the quiet to read, play the odd scrabble game and enjoy the beauty of nature with no one around to...ahem...scare the animals away with incessant talking. (They do truly wonder why the never see animals in the woods.)
We've been enjoying our daily hikes, mostly in the back woods behind the old farmhouse, with a full moon rising over our shoulders. No two walks are ever the same; there is always something different to see and hear. Case in point, last night while getting out just at the cusp of darkness, we were entertained by the sound of an owl hooting with a true and deep hooting sound from the woods. But as soon as we reached a clearing at the edge of the forest, he stopped. No doubt alerted by the jingle emanating from Callie's collar. We stood and quietly waited, hoping to hear him one more time. Still nothing.
Then technology reared its useful head. I opened the Audubon Owls app on my iPhone to try and figure out what type of owl was watching us. I played the sound of a Barn Owl, whose high pitched screech sounded nothing like our forest friend. We were sure we had a large sized owl on our hands, so next we listened to the Great Gray Owl which was, again, another miss. Then I played the Great Horned Owl call and friends we had a match! I played it again, this time with the speaker on my phone turned up high and 'called' out to our owl. We waited a few seconds, before he returned our call, and then what was likely his mate in a slightly toned down version of his call, also called out to us. January and February are considered the prime mating season for Great Horned Owls and as we headed back for home, they continued to call out to one another.
While it would have been nice to catch sight of either of them, we were enchanted nonetheless just to hear them because as we can often quickly forget, it's the knowing that something is there that can make all the difference.
Great Horned Owl Facts:
- They have prominent ear tufts atop their head, their function is unknown however experts agree it plays no role in their hearing ability.
- They are nocturnal birds who become active at dusk and hunt through the night. (This could explain our one overnight chicken loss in the summer when one decided to roost in the tree beside the coop.)
-They have been known to live up to 38 years in captivity and 13 in the wild, making them a long lived wise-old owl.
-While not the largest owl, that distinction belongs to the Great Gray Owl, Horned Owls can measure up to almost two feet tall and weigh in just over 3lbs.
-They've been know to feast on a wide range of animals including raccoon, rabbits, falcons, other owls and even the odd cat or dog. (Dear Ember...this is why you aren't allowed outside after dinner. Mom.)