A Call in the Night

It was 11:45 p.m. Being a typical “night owl” I was wide awake. I was sitting at my desk preparing for Monday morning when I heard a sound.


It was a soft sound. My first reaction was,”Is that…a mourning dove?? What? That makes no sense!” (Of course, that’s super silly, but the sound was so unexpected I was confused.)

So I froze and listened again. It sounded closer this time. “Hoo-hoo-hooo-hooo!”

I felt my adrenaline kick in and ran into the living room. “Dave, there’s a Great Horned Owl outside our window! I hear it! Put your shoes on.” I scrambled to find a sweatshirt and my sneakers. We quietly went outside to look for the owl.

We stood in the parking lot and looked around. Silence. It must have flown away. But there it was again! It was in the wooded area behind our apartment. As we walked the owl’s call guided us to it.

I was surprised. We live in a heavily populated area. Our apartment complex is big and next to a major highway and other busy roads. So it was the last place I expected an owl to be hanging out. The wooded area is small, but we quickly reached it and deliberately watched the trees.

Sometimes while walking at twilight Dave and I will mention how we need to get night vision goggles so we can bird watch at night. They would have been very helpful at this moment, because its very difficult to spot an owl at night. We knew we were close though, because every 20 seconds or so the owl would call out. Of course we weren’t going to see any details, but we searched for dark masses high in the tree tops.

And then it flew! It was a short flight; only from one branch to a nearby one. But we saw it! It was sitting where we thought it was before it flew. It was my first Great Horned Owl experience at night. We listened to it call for a few more minutes before going back to our apartment. What a thrilling experience!

This is the second Great Horned Owl experience we’ve had in the past week. Our first was at Maria B. Greenwald Park two Fridays ago. I feel so lucky to have been seeing my favorite bird recently. It makes me wonder if this owl will be sticking around or if it was just passing through. I’m not sure, but I do know one thing: I will certainly be listening carefully at night for any nearby owls!

Great Horned Owl CalPhotos1
(Image by George W. Robinson via outdooralabama.com)


Author: BirdNation

I am an avid birder, teacher, and nature lover. I primarily go birding in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but love to travel. I am currently a biology student with interests in conservation biology, ornithology, and environmental sciences. My dream is to go birding in all 50 states.

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