Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Owl

We had some excitement yesterday evening.

First, I came home from work to find that our nosy neighbor Mrs. Kravitz cut down the hawthorn tree in her back garden. Well, I'm sure she didn't cut it down herself, but she had it cut down. Workers were hauling branches out of her garden and packing them into a truck.

This surprised me, because she's been so protective of that hawthorn. In fact, she often complained about a large holly in our back garden that she felt was interfering with her tree's growth. (She also hates the holly because it drops berries on her trampoline). Dave and I had debated taking down the holly, but since we don't own the garden and tree removal is a major expense I've balked -- and now it looks like maybe we won't need to. At least not for the first reason.

Then, after it got dark, Dave and I were in the living room when I noticed a peculiar sound. At first, with the TV on, it sounded like a dog howling. Then I thought maybe it was a fox. But it was very regular, the same tone over and over. I went out in the garden and listened:

The name of my recording gives away the mystery. Yes, it was a tawny owl.

At first, I didn't know what kind of bird it was. A nightingale? They're a British thing, right? But no, I discovered online -- nightingales really sing, more like a mockingbird. This was just that single, low call, repeated again and again. So I suspected an owl.

I found this page of various British owl sounds (isn't the Internet wonderful?) and sure enough, the male tawny owl call matched.

I couldn't see him because he was in a huge, dark cedar in another neighbor's yard. But I have seen a tawny owl before, in Hyde Park.

I guess it can only be a good thing to have an owl in a garden that's plagued with digging rodents! I hope he hangs around!

(Photo: Fortune Green, about a week and a half ago.)


  1. Your wildlife encounters get more interesting by the day...As for the mystery behind the tree, I wonder if it was blighted somehow?

  2. I love the top picture with the shadowy arms moving over the grass and the daffodils.
    P.S. hawthorn not Nathaniel Hawthorne.

  3. E: Maybe -- but it looked fine from our side of the fence! Knowing the neighbor, I suspect she just turned against it for some reason.

    YP: Fixed! Way to balance your criticism with praise. You're still an effective teacher! :)

  4. Mrs. Kravitz is very odd, isn't she?
    How wonderful to have an owl in the backyard? Oh yes, they will definitely hunt the rodents.
    You have an urban jungle back there!

  5. how exciting! I heard/spotted an owl only once out here and that was when we first were coming out. when my sister lived farther out in the country (she lives in town now) she had a family of owls living in her live oak tree.

  6. Well, I hope tawny owls like squirrels. You would be in luck. It's amazing that this owl is in a city.

  7. Yes, the mockingbird is also known as the American nightingale. That factlet came up in a book a read recently.

  8. What a great photo, LOVE it!
    Owls are a great thing to have around. Very cool birds!

  9. It would be great if that owl took up residence in a nearby tree. It would be a great addition to the wildlife activity in your garden.

  10. I wondered if the owl used to live in Mrs. Kravitz's tree, & was complaining, but I guess you would have heard it before now if that were the case. Very cool!

  11. Yes, indeedy, your squirrel problem may be about to be rectified ...

    What a beautiful owl (I checked your link).

    And I love the shot of the tree shadow over the tulips.

  12. Hope you were nowhere near the terrorist attack!! You're okay, right?

  13. I'm fine! Horrible situation, though...

  14. Thanks for letting us know, Steve.