Mulling things on my morning ramble
with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.
At first I thought it was one of the kids crying or whimpering in their sleep.
I listened for a few minutes, trying to figure out which one it was.
My bet was it being our youngest. He must have some good subconscious experiences. He can go the full emotional range from laughing in his sleep to weeping. He once laughed so hard in his sleep that he woke himself up.
Then I realized it was a great horned owl.
After listening for a bit, I isolated the sound coming from the neighbor's tree just off the sidewalk in front.
Great horned owls have a distinctive call, which is hard to miss once you've heard it a couple times. Click here for the audio of a great horned owl from allboutbirds.org, the wonderful site on birds by Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
We have lived in our house for more than 10 years. In that time, I've probably heard great horned owls at night about six or seven times. The other times have been in the fall or winter and I could actually find them sitting in a neighbor's tree.
Considering I just saw the first leaves falling off our maple a couple days ago, the chances of seeing the owl were slim.
But at last I had to look.
Nothing. But apparently, he spotted me moving the blind back to look. He stopped hooing.
My favorite time spotting a great horned owl was some winters back.
The neighbor's elm was bare, obviously. There must have been snow on the ground because the night was well-lit. And I found the owl sitting in the neighbor's elm, almost directly in line with the full moon. Yeah, it was eerie enough to almost give me the willies.
A couple years ago, I had just climbed into my deer stand, a make-shift one, and was barely settled, listening to two distant owls hunting other fence rows when one floated past just feet away.
It was ghostly. And I nearly took a tumble off my stand. In the shock of the moment, it looked huge like something out of a movie about dinosaurs. How something with that big of a wing span could float so silently, I found fascinating.
I was awakened.
This morning, too. I got up and started the day, on a chilled morning promising change.