This one can be crossed off the bucket list. For the longest time I wanted to see a real, wild owl. Not an owl that comes with a wildlife rehabilitator. Not an owl stuck in a zoo. An owl that can silently swoop in, gaze at me and silently melt away into the forbidden darkness. It finally happened a few nights ago.
Of course I was in my car. But it still counts! We were the only car on our street and I had my two youngest daughters with me. Nine times out of ten that unusual figure sticking up from a branch is a broken limb or maybe even a piece of garbage caught by a snag. But this time, the large round head and two unmistakable black front-facing eyes told me that this was my first wild owl. I would have been ecstatic if it had looked at me for five seconds and flew off, but we were treated to some predatory action as well!
I pulled safely to the side of the street and we all observed the owl looking a bit uncomfortable. Why didn't this predator fly off into the forest? Would you run out of Siena if someone flashed a light in your face? No way. I would eat first and press charges later. This owl was spying its dinner. After a minute it swiftly landed on a mouse at the base of the tree and rushed to a different branch a little deeper in the forest. After it swallowed its meal, it swooped down on the ground again, snatched something and blended into the dark.
This was a Barred Owl, probably 18 to 20 inches tall. A huge predator. The cold, black, marble-like eyes were a feature that I will never forget. Hearing a Barred Owl's call is always a treat as well. I have heard them numerous times, even at 3:30 in the afternoon. And just like coyote howls, the Barred Owl's call always sends a shiver down my spine. Click here to see if it does the same for you.