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Falling asleep to the sound of “hoo hoohoo hoo hoo”

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, November 3rd, 2005 at 11:55 am in Animals, breeding, great horned owl, nesting, wild birds, Wildlife.

Right after Lois and I went to bed last night a great horned owl that was perched in the top of the redwood tree just outside our bedroom window started to hoot. It was so loud it felt like it was sitting right next to me on my pillow.

I knew it was a male owl because of the frequency and combination of his hoots. It was a low pitched, evenly paced "hoo hoo hoo."

After about five minutes of hooting around, a female suddenly answered him from across the canyon with some higher pitched hooting: "hoo hoohoo hoo hoo."

It’s kind of neat lying in the darkness in bed and listening to all this going on in my yard. We were almost perched right up there in the top of the tree with that great horned owl, listening to him trying to convince the lady owl from across the canyon to fly over so they can go perch outside someone’s front window and snuggle up and watch television together.

Great horned owls do their courting in the winter months, usually November and December. They build their nests sometime in December, lay eggs and compete with the tiny hummingbirds to see who hatches the earliest babies of the year. Curious that one of the largest of our birds of prey and the smallest of the nectar drinkers would both nest and raise their chicks while the wintery winds are ruffling their feathers and the freezing rains are still soaking the grass.

As Mother Nature would say, size has nothing to do with toughness in the wild world.

"hoo hoo hoo."

"hoo hoohoo hoo hoo."

That’s a nice sound to fall asleep to.

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2 Responses to “Falling asleep to the sound of “hoo hoohoo hoo hoo””

  1. Pat in Antioch Says:

    Gee Gary…..I’m SO envious….can I come & live in your backyard?? :-)

  2. Marlene Ebinger ALtman Says:

    Hi Gary – I too live in Benicia and go to sleep to an owl’s plaintive calls. How wonderful! But “hooo” is it? Mine doesn’t have the marked cadence of yours. I looked it up and is sounds like a Burrowing Owl because of the coo-coo sound… a hard consonant at the beginning. Noooo,where would it burrow in this residential neighborhood? THen, after an absence of a few weeks and hearing it again, I looked it up in another book – the Stokes field guide suggests the Great Horned Owl is “given to various rhythms”. COuld that be it? S/he sounds mournful, not loud, 5 hoots in a varied rhythm. Tall pines abound here but haven’t found any evidence (pellets etc). ANy thoughts on how to identify my friend?

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