A Barred Owl Calls

From the deep silence of a dark, still night came the sudden, booming call. Hoo-owwww, the call of a Barred Owl. It sounded very close. It was a mild night, not cold at all, with temperatures in the mid 50s, perfect for sleeping with open bedroom windows, but no crickets or other night insects singing yet. I’d been lying awake between 3:00 and 4:00 am, having trouble going back to sleep, when this big, rich, expressive call brought the too-quiet night to life. It’s amazing how much an owl can express with just one call. Not that I know what it was expressing, but it sounded full of life and detail. 

After that one call, silence returned for several minutes, maybe half an hour or more, and I thought the owl must have flown away. But then, just as unexpectedly, it called again, sounding as if it came from the very same spot. It sounded very close – though I know this can be deceptive. This time it called three, maybe four times, with just a few moments in between. Not the full who cooks for you but just one good strong Hoo-owww each time, ending with a slight, purring tremolo. I listened, but could not hear another owl’s call in response. 

Though a Barred Owl’s call is powerful and at times I would describe it as loud – as when two Barred Owls are caterwauling back and forth in their wild way. But when one calls like this, it seems to express a lower, more intimate quality – though certainly it still fills the night. I could almost feel this call as much as hear it, feeling it in my chest and stomach and heart, a velvety, feathery quality, warm and sensual. And that feeling of being connected to life outside in the night, on a restless, sleepless night, was a comforting thing.

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