Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Great Horned Owls Adventure

Seward, Alaska

I’ve enjoyed hearing two GREAT HORNED OWLS calling from the forested sloped of the mountains every evening for the past several weeks. It’s usually when I walk the good dogs around the block about 11 pm, unless it’s really windy or raining.

Last night was no exception. Except, they weren’t on the mountainside.
I followed the marvelous hooting from Monroe St east to Fourth Avenue’s 600 block. I stood on the sidewalk near a large spruce tree and enjoyed the duet, just smiling, first low then answered by high with some warbling variations on the basic hoots. I wanted to share this good news, but no one was about and the houses were dark.

After a few minutes, the hooting resumed a block south, and we followed. This time, I think they were in a cottonwood at Fourth and Madison. I stared hard into the leaves but unfortunately, I could not see them despite the nearby streetlights.

Then I heard them another block south and followed the music to Third and Jefferson St. There! One owl flew to the top of a spruce tree. By standing in the middle of the road, I was able to see the silhouette of the large owl against the lop-sided moon. What a photo that would have been!

Suddenly, the second owl flew up; the first raised its wings in protest, and then sailed off, relinquishing its perch. The second owl balanced precariously a few moments and then it too swooped away.

Very soon, they began hooting again and led us down Second Avenue. We followed. As I stood and listened at the intersection of Adams and Second, an owl flew low right over us and landed with a scraping sound on the peaked metal roof of the Episcopal Church.

The dogs, who were quite surprised at actually seeing a large bird so close AT NIGHT, did not care for this and barked in alarm. The owl just looked at us, a dim, dark mysterious being. As I throttled the young dog, the other owl flew higher overhead and the church owl silently joined it, wafting over the nearby apartment building and back to the mountainside.

We too, turned back to home. It was a magical walk off our usual route. I wonder if the owls too, enjoyed their sortie into the center of sleepy Seward, trailed by a happy birder and two mystified dogs.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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