Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Owl Adventures - We've Got Hoots!

As has become standard operating procedure here, we were owl hunting again tonight.

We didn't get out to the property before sunset but pulled in just after dark. As soon as the Island King opened the truck door he said "He's here!" Seconds later we heard the now familar, deep hooting. Yeah!! He's here and we're ready.

Ok, let's go find him.

We honed in immediately on a large pine tree at the edge of a clearing. I read that they like to sit high above open areas and then swoop down when their prey runs out into the open. We got to the tree and he was hooting SO loud that we knew he had to be right above us.

We spent the next half hour, listening to him hoot and shining our light up into the trees trying to find him. We didn't see squat. We approached the tree from every angle and we never even caught a glimpse of him. We searched the surrounding trees as well and saw nothing.

He obviously wasn't bothered by us. He didn't fly away when we started shining our light into the trees and he just kept hooting away.

This went on for at least 30 minutes and then after a minute or so of quiet, we heard him hoot again but from a tree down closer to the water. Wow! We were staring at the tree, being absolutely silent and he managed to fly off without us having a clue. It's amazing how quiet such a large bird can be.

I've learned that owl feathers are very soft, like fleece. And their wing feather is saw shaped. Those 2 things deaden the sound of air rushing over their bodies, making them silent as they fly.

He hooted from his new perch a few times and then out of the corner of my eye, I saw something glide out over the water and disappear. He was gone.

But...

My point and shoot camera takes video with sound so I hit record and got some audio of his hoots. They sound very faint on this video but it was so much louder than the video picked up. And the video isn't great because it was dark and I was really just trying to get his hoot. I spliced together the hoots and deleted most of the silence.




I still haven't seen him but I know he's there and for some reason I've become completely obsessed with actually seeing this owl. Fortunately, the Island King is just as determined to see him again as I am. He's really kicking himself for not getting a picture the day he saw him so he's on a mission to get a photo.

I did get sound tonight so maybe I'll get his picture tomorrow night.
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