That is what the call of the American Barred Owl sounds as if it is saying. It’s a magical sound and one of the top owl calls anywhere in the world. It’s right up there with ‘Twit twoo’ of the Tawny Owl and the ‘Hoo do you think YOU lookin’ at?’ of the Great Horned Owl. Okay I made the last one up, but their call is one of the most commonly used night time sound effects heard on any American TV or movie and is so recognisable.
Here at the Scottish Owl Centre we are fortunate to have all three species so maybe someday/night we’ll be lucky enough to hear all these calls together!
Our Barred Owls are gorgeous, and we are very proud to have them in our growing collection of owls from around the world. There aren’t that many Barred Owls in collections in the UK and we feel really privileged to have a pair! We would dearly love them to breed, but as they have only known each other for five days we figured this would be unlikely this year. Or would it?’
It could take a long time for the pair to bond and hopefully one day breed, but just in case of a whirlwind romance I figured it is important to make them my number one priority to get their aviary kitted out with everything they need as soon as possible.
Waking up really early this morning I found myself unable to get back to sleep. I started to think about the things I needed or wanted to get done at work today, as is always the way, and eventually decided to just get up and get started. It was light enough to see so I was in at around 7 a.m. sorting through the branches collected from the park yesterday. I picked out some that looked promising and carried them round to the Barred Owl aviary. I then went on a hunt for a nestbox. I had printed off a list of boxes for the joiners to build whenever they had some spare time, and I’d seen what looked like a ‘nestbox factory’ in the covered area that will become our Education zone. When I printed that list off for the joiners we didn’t know for certain that we would get the Barred Owls, so I hadn’t added them to the list of boxes to be made. Looking through the collection of boxes I saw one that was large enough but I wasn’t sure it was quite what they would like. Scouting through the back of the display arena I found a ‘corner nest shelf’ that had been made and discarded weeks ago. Measuring it up I thought it would be the right size and maybe a better style for these birds to use. I took it through to the Education zone and left it to show to the joiners when they arrived for work.
Until then I got on with another task. Our Little Owls were moved into their permanent aviary last Wednesday evening and have been doing okay, but have been somewhat exposed and nervous about all of the building work going on right in front of them. Some of the branches we gathered yesterday still have needles on them from the Scots Pines that were blown down in recent storms. I decided to put them to use creating a screen for the Little Owls to hide behind if they were disturbed by the noise of work around them. They don’t look quite right from the outside but the Little Owls do seem a lot happier that they are there. This will certainly do for now. Maybe I’ll find something better later on and will change things round.
Back to the Barred Owls. The joiners arrived and reckoned they could put the nesting shelf up really quickly and whenever I wanted, so I got right to the task of catching the owls up and taking them (in travel crates) round to a quiet area away from the building work. With them out of the pen we could come and go freely and get all the furnishing done in one go. As promised the nest shelf went up really quickly. I then asked if a second roof could be made to provide shelter for the female Barred Owl, who I noticed yesterday had gotten very wet in the overnight rain while sat on what seems to be her favourite perch.
A few hours later and everything was done. Nest shelf, check. New perching, check. Roof on new shelter area, check. Greenery in the form of branches with needles in front of the nest shelf, check. All done. Time to release the owls!
First impressions seemed to show that the owls like the new furniture, and as the photo shows, they do look good together. Well we’ve done all we can to make them a nice home, it’s over to the owls now. Hopefully the nice sunshine will continue, maybe a little moonlight will get them hooting, some soft music to get them in the mood? Play a little Barry White perhaps? Perhaps not! Fingers are definitely crossed for them now though.
I found out later in the day that a magical sound had been heard from the centre around 11 p.m. last night. It went along the lines of;