Music to My Ears

Last night, as I stood in front of the sink to get ready for bed, I thought I heard something. Something very good. Something I had been listening closely for on many, many nights now. I opened the window and strained to hear the faint noise again. Yes! There it was. No doubt about it.




An insistent and somewhat plaintive call repeating a few times each minute. Coming from somewhere close in the canyon, but much further away than it ever was in the past. Still, it was a familiar noise and one that I have gotten very used to hearing on summer evenings. What a relief and a joy to hear it once again!

A month ago, I wrote about how much I’ve missed the Great Horned Owls this year as they have chosen (for the first time in 6 years) to nest a bit further afield. This change has meant that I no longer hear the regular nightly duet of the adults hooting back and forth to each other. But, it has also meant that for the many months following the juveniles fledging from the nest, their distinctive and (in my opinion) endearing “feed me” calls have also been absent.

To be honest, until last night, I wasn’t really sure if the resident pair had actually managed to nest successfully this year. That one little voice calling distantly through the darkness allayed my suspicions and had me grinning away as I brushed my teeth.  In honor of this happy news, here is a photo from several years ago of one of the many owlets just after leaving the confines of the nest. Interestingly, all of the nests that I have observed here in the canyon have been in eucalyptus trees such as this one.


Great Horned Owl, immature in eucalyptus


Anyone else have the pleasure of hearing owl calls at night where they live?

Harsi / July 17, 2011 / birds


  1. Ben - July 20, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

    Amazing shot of that owl! Love it. I hear owls around our house almost every day at some point, but have only seen an owl ONCE in 4 years. I don’t look too hard, so maybe that’s why. But I love the sound. Oh, speaking of birds, a robin built another nest in the same place as last year while we were away a few weeks ago. The babies (two of them) hatched over the weekend! Looks like Li & Harps are going to have to come up with some new names. B

  2. Chris - July 20, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    I think this photo proves that juvenile owls are just about the most adorable thing ever. Well, maybe second to cats, haha. I like how it is looking through a “window” framed by the tree. I’m glad you are hearing these again!

  3. Harsi - July 20, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

    Thanks for the compliment, B! Glad you liked the photo. Sometimes it can be hard to pull-off the bright gray sky background. You’ve got to increase the exposure to compensate for how dark everything in the foreground looks. Lucky for me, this effect worked pretty well here… accentuating the intense yellow-eyed stare and the shape of the eucalyptus branches and leaves. How wonderful that you get to hear owls so frequently! Of course, now you know that I’m wondering what species of owl they are… Any clues? (Don’t make me have to call you and get you to do an impression of what they sound like!) Hey, that’s fantastic that the robin family has returned! Congratulations! I very much would enjoy hearing the names the kids come up with this year — last years’ were awesome! ~ H

  4. Harsi - July 20, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

    Ha ha! Chris, you may be right! You may very well be right… Baby owl is pretty adorable. (So is kitten… hmmm, tough call.) And, yes, the fuzzball does look very picturesque with the branches framing it. Nice observation! I’m glad to be hearing them again too — every night since this post! I was really sorry that we weren’t able to locate that purported Great Horned Owl that was supposedly being seen at El Dorado when we were there. That would have been a nice thing to find for you…


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