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Cries in the dark

Night owl
by Dan Hartman

April 6, 2014

April 1st

     Wind had died down so I went out owling.  At Pebble I had a strange occurance going on.  A horned owl was hooting east of the campground and another was closer to me making hideous barkings, shrieking and yerping sounds.  This continued over and over with first the farther owl hooting then the closer one doing it's shrieking calls as an answer.  I stood there in the dark trying to make sense of what I was hearing.  It seemed the second owl was moving up and down the creek while the hooter was staying put.  Obviously this must be a courting display.

     I finally drove on leaving the still vocal owls to their privacy.  The next five spots were silent but even though I didn't hear the boreal at the state line I wandered if I might pick him up farther on.  Then, sure enough, just past Warm Creek a song sounded to the south.

    The rest of my posts yielded nothing, although a hunting fox peered at me near the Northeast Gate.

     April 5th

     Finally another wind still night.  Kelly ventured out with me, we reached Pebble Creek at 9 P.M.  I expected to hear the horned owl but was presently surprised to hear a boreal instead.  Over and over he called.  A long song followed instantly by a shorter one.

     On a chance we drove on to the west end of Round Prairie.  Off far to the south came a barely audible call.  I wasn't sure at first, but Kelly had noticed it too.

     Nothing sounded at Thunderer or Ice Box.  At Lower Bridge we got one calling from the slope above us.  Once again the owl was  very distant.  It was almost as if the silence was louder than the song.  Upper Barronette was quiet.  This has always been my best spot, but not even a horned owl yet.  Just down the road I stopped at the ski sign just short of the Upper Bridge.  A boreal was calling just ahead of us to the Northeast.  His call seemed urgent, almost angry.  I wondered if it could by my State line owl.

     It was quiet at the State Line and on down the road at Warm Creek.  I really think this one owl is traveling up and down the Soda Butte calling for a mate.  I've heard it the last three times out.

     Kelly and I made three more stops, but no more sign. Still, four boreals is my best night since 2012.



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Great Horned Owl

Boreal Owl