Somewhere in the deep dark of early morning, the Barred Owl called. A piercing series of low hoots, repeated over and over again. I came out of deep sleep and groggily pieced together the pattern: Who COOKS for YOU? Who COOKS for you? With that voice pattern I knew it was a Barred Owl.
I noticed Glen was stirring and quietly asked him: “Do you hear the owl?” He came fully awake with a snort and said:
“What? What owl?” And then he heard it as well.
We lay in the dark and listened to it call for several minutes. Glen wondered if it might be calling to a mate, but we heard no answering calls. I wondered if it might have been a young owl, born this year and moving through the neighborhood, looking for a territory to claim. We tried to figure out where it was, and guessed that it was probably north and west of us, near Schneider creek.
We’ve lived in this neighborhood for over twenty years now, first on Garfield ravine and now
near Schneider creek and its ravine. Even in the middle of a small city, these ravines are still great owl habitats, so this is not the first time we’ve heard Barred Owls. But they rarely stay; even though city rats provide a fabulous source of food, city crows tend to band together and drive out owls. So it is a real treat when one comes through and graces us with its presence.
So we lay in the dark and let the sound of the Barred Owl lull us back to sleep. Somewhere in the night, it keeps watch and it hoots. I feel safe and comforted by its presence.
photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation