There is a cacophony in our backyard and we suspect he's come back. My husband, Will, and I walk back into the woods to see what's going on. We see an especially loud, frantic bird dive bombing something. Yellowing leaves drift down. More bird commotion.
Then, a few flaps of some huge wings and a Barred Owl (Strix varia) lands on the branch of a tall dogwood tree, just a few feet away from us!
I run in for my camera and when I get back he poses for me for a good long while before flying from oak to pine to maple.
I don't know if this is actually the same owl who's visited in the past, but Barred Owls can live for more than 20 years (incredible!) with a typical lifespan in the wild of about 10 years, so it could be the same one returning to the same part of my yard every year.
I find out that voles are his favorite meal and understand why he comes here to this yard. I hope he hunts all night!
In the morning darkness, I hear him again. This is what he sounds like at around 5 a.m. You often hear it described as "Who cooks for you?" Can you hear it? To me it's just "Hoo hoo hoo HOOO," but I do love the sound.
A good You Tube video (and short) if you want to hear what it sounds like when an owl visits.
Previous owl visits to A Charlotte Garden:
The Owl Pages
The Carolina Raptor Center