Monday, May 22, 2006

nature in action

Tonight's nature encounter was not an uncommon one but thrilling nonetheless. Since Buddy has gotten older (eight months old now) he's gotten more protective. He'll chuff at the doors or windows if he hears something unusual like neighbors coming and going or the cat jingling around outside. He makes the rounds when the girls are in bed. He nudges the doors open with his nose (actually his cone right now since the tail is still healing), goes up to their beds and gets a good whiff to make sure they're in there. But tonight's encounter was not about Buddy, other than we finally figured out what's been making him crazy for the past couple of nights.


We hear screeches at night all the time. Josh has seen them fly over, but wasn't able to identify them because duh, it was at night. He thought they might be hawks, but I argued that I didn't think hawks were nocturnal. Tonight after Josh took out the trash we were closing up and I heard a peculiar clicking and melodious twittering, followed by that screeching noise. We went out into the front yard to listen for more and saw our neighbors outside looking up at the huge palm tree in their yard. There were two huge owls circling the palm tree. Our neighbor Gaby said, "Listen to the babies!" Sure enough, we heard the definite sounds of begging bird babies. The birds continued to call and circle and twitter for at least five full minutes. From our lowly laymen's perspective, we thought they may be vying for territory (eliminate the nest sort of thing), mating/courting or just plain old protecting the nest and feeding their young. One of the owls finally started to circle directly over our heads, so we took the hint and went inside. I went out again a few minutes later in response to Buddy's chuffing at the back door and heard the owls calling from the nest to the street behind us.

I can't explain how geeked out I am about this. I LOVE NATURE! To see it in action has always fascinated me. I may not seem like an outdoorsy kind of girl, but I won't hesitate to stick my hands into something icky in the name of discovery, whether it's in the dirt to dig up worms or in my best friend's discarded placenta. To know that there are several amazing creatures out there right now, just doing their thing in my front yard is so beyond cool. I hope they stay around long enough this summer for the kids to see one of their nighttime shows. Come to think of it, they've always been around, perching in the giant eucalyptus trees before they were cut down and in the huge pine tree on the corner across the street. How very Californian to have owls nesting in a palm tree!

Here's the informational scoop: they are Common Barn Owls, obviously the big ones with the white, heart-shaped faces. They primarily hunt small rodents and lizards, but they're big enough that I'd bet they could catch a small cat as well. (not that my kitty is in any way small, but I still feel safer with her inside at night) The website I linked to above has audio of all the calls we heard tonight - pair calling, twittering, typical call/screech and chicks begging. Take some time to hop over there and check them out, won't you? I'll ask if you listened, too. You know I will. Don't make me nag. You know how I get!

P.S. will my reader from Atlanta, GA please identify themselves? Especially if it's Gracie, as I suspect :) thanks!

1 comment:

Nicki said...

That is so cool - I've never seen an owl in real life, I'm completely jealous. We also really love nature. We have film *and* video of the heron and crane that have been visiting us lately and of the two families of canadian geese who swim by. We are such geeks. I can totally relate. Don't you love living in the thick of it?!?!