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The Daily Bucket is a place where we can post and exchange our observations about the natural happenings in our neighborhoods. Birds, bugs, blossoms and more - each notation is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the natural patterns that are unwinding around us.
October 18, 2012. Seattle.

About a half hour ago I made my evening pilgrimage down to the garden to pick salad greens for dinner. There wasn't quite enough light left from the day so I carried my little lantern as I picked my way down the back porch stairs. Halfway down there was a scream that stopped me cold. Above me a shadow careened across the sky. Owl shadow. It was gone too quickly, leaving only the hairs on the back of my neck standing tall.

I forgot about salad, remembering only the years I'd spent on the farm down on the Oregon coast. We had a barn, and the barn supported a pair of Barn Owls. Our goats would return to the barn every evening and I would dread going out to milk them because of that sound - the sound of Barn Owls screaming at me when I invaded their territory with my buckets and my little lamp. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up then, too.

Barn Owl Scream, second recording down: Territorial scream or advertising call.

October 18, 2012. One Barn Owl was present in the back yard, a first in 36 years.

###

What's happening in your neighborhood? Everyone is welcome to add their sightings to the Bucket. Just let us know where you're located, as close as you are comfortable sharing.

I'll be back in the early afternoon PDT for a bit and again in the evening.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I just listened to the tape, and I can (10+ / 0-)

    understand why the hair on the back of your neck stood up.
    Eerie.  

    I am a work in progress. Still.

    by broths on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 09:34:59 AM PDT

  •  Not very owl-like is it? (11+ / 0-)

    I've seen them fairly often in Arizona and California but never elsewhere.  I did hear one a few times in our neighborhood a year and half ago but never laid eyes on it.  My only experience with one in the east.

    congratulations on your yard first.  We are unlikely to encounter any other owls in our neighborhood in the near future as at least one Great Horned has returned.

    In Bucket news it has been much colder the last couple of days with highs in the low 70s and lows well down into the 50s.  Official temps at the airport have lows in the mid-40s but has not got anything like that cold at our house.

    Put up our feeders yesterday - lots of visitation already but just resident species).  I tried putting them up with only mealworms last weekend in the hope of drawing in warblers but only got Carolina Wrens that threw as many over the side as they ate.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 09:50:47 AM PDT

    •  Definitely not what you'd expect an owl (9+ / 0-)

      to sound like. More like a banshee, or a maybe a haint.

      Another lovely blue morning here. Bushtits and Black-capped Chickadees have finally discovered the feeders. Took them long enough - the Anna's hummingbirds have almost finished the first patch of nectar.

      I came for the politics and stayed for the science.

      by bwren on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 10:04:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lovely and clear here as well (8+ / 0-)

        I've been grading most of the morning and am thinking of heading out for the afternoon.  Our current forecast has 0% chance of precipitation every day through the end of the month.  After our last big rain on 10/3 the tap must have been turned off as the rain just stopped.  One wet evening since then but otherwise quite dry.  October is one of our driest months but still...

        "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

        by matching mole on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 10:10:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Some contend that the barn owl was (10+ / 0-)

        probably the source of the traditional ghost - pale, floating silently, often near graveyards with a gawdawful shriek.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 10:49:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Great Horned Owls are aggressive too (5+ / 0-)

          or have a sense of humor..I had one drop silently off a branch and BANG his wings open right above my head as I walked under him down a moonlit dirt road late one night..I think I had two thoughts..well three:
          1. WTF!! I've been shot!!!

          2.  he's laughing at me

          3. where am I going to find dry clothes?

          And then there was the set of babies whoodling at me from 120' up a tree...my powerful light just illuminated them enough to id...before that they had been moaning and muttering, the adults I hadn't before noticed were answering from the 2-4 block radius they were hunting in.

          But their eyes reflected back a serious laser bronze...and I got religion on the spot.

          I had to use Intellectual Powers of Higher Education to convince my self I wasn't seeing a tree full of devils.

          But back when the world was young, say 5,900 years ago Before Flashlight, all we had were burning little torches and just the rich kids had those.

          And the Barn Owl  screams....if you weren't already Convinced.

          No wonder we are a paranoid crazy species....the hissing Devils were all around us!!!

          ..excepts from my free pamphlet: The Source Of All Religions

          This machine kills Fascists.

          by KenBee on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 08:21:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Chesapeake Bay - south east end (10+ / 0-)

    Back from fishing but was too windy to go out far. Did see a couple dolphin pods - once feeding and once riding along a sailboat. Also watched a couple eagles. The boys caught a few little fish and then got bored. Not unexpected for that age.

    I need to get back into the woods as I saw lots of birds zipping around, looked like warblers mostly.

    I love George Takei for being aware and honest and sharing. And "the best damn pilot in the universe."

    by PHScott on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 10:48:02 AM PDT

  •  Huge flocks of pine siskins (10+ / 0-)

    Yesterday there were flocks of pine siskins in the very tops of our cedar trees.  I'd never seen so many before.  They worked their way around the yard from tree to tree.  Not a single one visited the feeders down below.

    Ah yes, NE corner of the Olympic Peninsula, WA

    Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by Milly Watt on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 10:50:40 AM PDT

  •  Barred owls hoot in the trees around us. (11+ / 0-)

    Some nights they are quite active. We like hearing them. No hairs stand up from their calls.

    Today is in the 60s and clear in Iowa. I am going out to cut the grass and chop up the light layer of leaves. When the rest of them fall, it will be easier to clean up and move them to the wooded area behind us.

    Hoot Hoot Hoot to all of you.


    Great power comes from great d(Energy)/d(t)

    by jim in IA on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 10:50:44 AM PDT

    •  Barred Owls pose so nicely (12+ / 0-)
      Barred Owl during the day

      Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

      by Milly Watt on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 10:59:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like that. Thanks. (7+ / 0-)


        Great power comes from great d(Energy)/d(t)

        by jim in IA on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 01:20:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This was in our front yard (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KenBee, bwren, burnt out, sockpuppet

          It just sat there, watching me take pictures in the middle of the day.   I don't have big glass on my camera -- it was very near by.

          Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

          by Milly Watt on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 07:41:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My brother called up the Barred Owls in his woods (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Milly Watt, burnt out, bwren, sockpuppet

            in western washington, they came right up to challenge.
            The Spotted Owls do as well, and scientists have been trying to figure how to remove newly invasive Barred Owls from the rare and specific Spotted Owl territory...in the norcal deep big woods.

            They used this call and challenge for their first attempt: they put a mouse on a stick with a net trap, and always caught the larger iirc right, heh, female who was more aggressive. She would get transportation..but this left the male who would moan and mooch around and find a new girl, so the territory was still Barred Owl territory.

            They decided since they couldn't catch the shyer male with that same trick, to experimentally, in the name of science and  Spotted Owl conservation theology and forest preservation politics...to shoot both of the Barred Owls, which they did...

            And what they found out was that the smaller less aggressive Spotted Owls quickly moved back into the territory or even were still there, only having gone silent because of the more aggressive and larger Barred Owl presence. Spotted Owls have gained ground and in a few cases some Barred Owls have spread back in and quickly take over the neighborhood, but when removed again the Spotted Owls are back in the pink.

            The Barred Owls are not a protected species, they are the better and more adaptable of the line of Spotted Owl/Barred Owls genetically, and they can interbreed somewhat in marginal territories.

            So that seems to be the little publicized news about Barred Owl/Spotted Owl management...the articles about it are in the Humboldt County 'North Coast Journal' and the biologist who has developed this is a local Humboldt County biologist.
              A problem not mentioned in the article, and maybe not a problem, is that if this gets privatized somehow by the timber industry, they will hire professional shooters, and 'OOPS those were Spotted Owls? so sorry..'..allowing them to mitigate the 'take' in one area by removing the Barred Owls in another less economic area....some such gaming would surely ensue.
              We saw in an earlier diary that the oil company bulldozed  a bone pile from a 2000 year old Buffalo Jump that was likely to be a World Heritage site. This doesn't bode well for Owl conservation by Gunner...or Grad student.
              Reminds me of the Golden Eagle removal on the Channel Islands, replaced by Bald Eagles who wouldn't kill Island Foxes.

            Science is messy ain't it?

            This machine kills Fascists.

            by KenBee on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 08:46:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Lucky you! I love barn owls, and even (11+ / 0-)

    love their vocalizations, music to my ears.

    Castro Valley, CA has been having erratic weather, hot spells followed by cool to cold ones.

    Spiders are seemingly much more numerous, but I figure that it is that they are more visible since larger.

    A while ago we severely pruned the Dusty Miller beside out Pineapple sage, and the sage came roaring back and is in full bloom right now.  I.m not sure if that is normal or not - it almost seems like it has been blooming for most of the year now.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 10:54:18 AM PDT

  •  I see barn owls flying low over fields in daytime (9+ / 0-)

    but silently. I've heard the shriek at night. Yah spooky. Would freeze a rodent in fear too.

    I put out my hummingbird feeder a few days ago, and have been getting visits every day from at least 2 Anna's (that's as many as I've seen at one time).

    Photobucket

    Photobucket

    I've never provided a feeder during the winter before. Any tips, besides keeping the mix fresh?

    •  Two male Anna's have been feuding (8+ / 0-)

      over the feeder. Jeez, i think they're expending more energy chasing each other around the yard than either is getting from the feeder. Cooperate, you two!

      I came for the politics and stayed for the science.

      by bwren on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 02:39:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I keep two feeders during freezing spells (5+ / 0-)

      I keep one inside thawing while the other is outside.  When the outdoors one freezes, I swap them.  It doesn't get that cold often that we have to worry about frozen sugar water, but it's important to have unfrozen food available during those cold spells.  I feel like it's kind of a commitment to them.

      Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

      by Milly Watt on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 07:46:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Short Earred Owls can look like Barn Owls (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OceanDiver, burnt out, bwren, sockpuppet

      from a distance and they do start their cruising about 45 minutes before sunset. They fly low and I have had some flare right up in my face while hiking at night..me hiking, them flying low just to be clear.
        They are about the same size, the head is on a short neck..I haven't seen day flying Barn Owls, but in the same field the Barn Owls soon after dark land on the nearby phone line a yell mean things at the mice who taunt them with their little wrigglings.

      and my biologist friend say the Short Earreds are rarer here in socal coastal...these I see at More Mesa that really needs the dam protedtion that well appreciated excellent habitat open space deserves..and with out the compromise to get the deal done..like selling off a corner for development for richy rich housing.

      On the bright side the Bacara has stopped its attempt to build some bullshit condos near the coastal hotel..and on an Indian graveyard..I had a friend who lived in the small ranch house there and saw bones wash pout of the stream bed there...if ever you were going to make a permanent coastal camp, that would be tops on anyone's list.
      And further east about two miles a portion of the last open Goleta land has also stopped it's massivedevelopment plans...too many whiny ass hippies.
      HEEHEE!
      Yay US!
      Another parcel was just approved for building way too many condos, now a large open previously ag land..Boo!

      See you save a couple and lose a few more, net loss.
        We have yet to destroy some stupid consruction and restore the land to passive natural anything. Even in the most bullshit of bullshit mitigation deals, not one sq foot.

      Back to Owls, maybe the next Bored of Supes I will take in a bag of baby Barn Owls and let them do my talkifying...they are better whiners than I will ever be,

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 09:00:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We do have short eared owls also (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burnt out, bwren, sockpuppet, KenBee

        but what I remember from those occasions is how the owl practically blended into the color of the field. A golden dry grass color. I'll watch closely next time, it's always a real treat to see an owl in daylight. Otherwise I only see them in headlights and such. Hear them much more than see them of course, especially barred owls.

        Goleta? I lived near there for a few years when I went to UCSB in the 70s, in IV. The area was getting built up then, I'm amazed there's any open land at all between the ocean and the hills. That's something anyway...keep fighting the good fight, for wildlife.

        •  White Tail Kite families still control the air ove (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OceanDiver

          over Devereaux from the Eucalyptus tree windbreak by the oil tanks on out over the protected Ellwood Mesa and golf course.  They are great birds, they wrangle and perch and sqweek, their hunting and stoop is so mesmerizing as well. Almost everybody watches them if they are airborn.
              No butterflies in the grove yet..

          More Mesa has the Short Earred owls in the San Antonio creek bed drainage, they fly out about 45 minutes before dark, lazily flapping around at about 50', then at dusk they get ground level busy. There are also White Tailed Kite family colonies there, and once I saw a Barred or Great Horned Owl, I don't know what, launch right in front of me under the oak trees.
          A Marsh Hawk can be seen there as well flying low and slow and doing the most startling wingover stoop/dive from 15', bam! You can clearly see his white rump patch and his motley dusky plummage.
            So it's still pretty good birding but has got waaaaay too dense since you were there,,and I. I went to UCSB and in 1964 all 3000 of us stood on the dirt path in front of the library to register at the one window in the two story barracks/registrar's office. Goleta beach is really great for birding, especially in winter, they are letting the sand build up and there is a lot of water trapped their, the high tides waves over wash...I think the Board of Supes hope it all washes away because the Great Unwashed protested proposed beach parking fees...the beach being virtually totally populated by lower income people...of course if you go in the county fee'd bar and grill you would have got free parking, totally fair. Heh, huge response from the citizenry...so maybe if it washes the parking lot away those freeloaders will go away too... bet the incumbents somehow got it proposed it so as to look good and squash it theatriclly before the election..or maybe a coinkydink..yeah that's it.

          Where are you now?

          This machine kills Fascists.

          by KenBee on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 02:19:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  oh! This really takes me back... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KenBee

            Now I want to go back down there for a visit (I live in the San Juan Islands, nw corner Wash state now) and see what is happening, and thank you thank you for pushing back on that proposed development. Never give up...sounds like you guys are making yourselves heard.

            I have to admit, I never went over to More Mesa. I didn't have a car, got around by bike, didn't even go into SB, no reason to. Most of my wandering about was west, down the beach to Devereux, I spent a lot of time on the beach (was studying invert bio). Lived longest in a shoebox apt on Del Playa, next to what we called DS park (dog shit), so west was the natural direction for me. Wish I'd traveled more!

            When I could I loved to go up into the Santa Ynez, wonderful valleys, open woodland, giant pine cones, dry herbal smells, you didn't have to go far off the road for it to feel so remote. Great birds up there too. Soaring raptors. Sigh. Memories. Enjoy the kites and owls and the monarchs for me.....

  •  Just listened to the shriek... (8+ / 0-)

    definitely a hair-stand-on-end sound. Never heard it before - thanks.

    Both my cats were lounging on the floor behind me when I played it. You can imagine their reaction - from from snoozing to alert and alarmed in a split second :)

  •  Barn owls have managed to avoid me my entire life. (5+ / 0-)

    It is a big disappointment to me that I've never seen or heard one though they supposedly do live here in Missouri. My oldest daughter lived in Texas for a few years and while there she and a  friend rescued a clutch of them from an airplane hanger where they were about to be destroyed by the owners because of the mess they made on some pretty expensive planes. They built a box and placed it on the outside of the hanger and fed them white mice until the parents moved in and took things over.

    Weather here in mid Missouri has been absolutely perfect two days straight here which is why I'm so late getting here today. Hard to hang around the house when the sun is shining and the fall is in the air.

    We saw a large group of turkey vultures today way, way,way, up there and circling but steadily moving south so they are definitely moving out now. I've been watching the flocks build up for a couple weeks now and knew it was coming. Looks like it's started now.

    Glad you got to hear a barn owl bwren, very cool.

    Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

    by burnt out on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 06:44:09 PM PDT

    •  Black Vultures? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      burnt out, bwren, sockpuppet

      Kidding, Imma kidder!!
      that's it, a kidder.

      I was saying how a set of TV's circled lower and lower around me while sitting still I was looking at Humboldt Bay..one flew really close like he was Concerned, like 'And just how are you feeling today, sir?' in his best preacher concern voice.

      After the Gaviota Fire I hiked the burn area a lot, and whenever I'd start up the trail I would get my personal TV escort for the day...I just found the wing feather he dropped on the burning Oak stump for me to find..intentional trap?
          I don't know, but as I stepped on the cool ash,( barely distinguishable from the nearby dirt and ash, only this ash was covering a 4-600 degree pit of smouldering Oak stump) I knew what I was discovering just in time to get out before I fell all the way in.  People get third degree burns from this and it was 5 miles from help. This was 4 weeks after the fire..and a common thing in burn areas where the trees burn down thru the roots like this.
        I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it...nice big wing feather too, who could resist?

      Look alive brother!

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 09:13:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Went over to Birdsong Nature Preserve today (7+ / 0-)

    Fair to middlin' birds today. A single wood thrush, black and white warbler, abundant T. titmouse, chickadees and cardinals. The male cardinals at Birdsong are a particularly vivid red this year. They are usually redder than their cousins living in my back yard, but this year they have outdone themselves. Even the lady cardinals are redder around the leading edges of their wings, in their crests and tails.

    This time of year the house finches and other sparrows are scarce. They show up again in late November. Also, some people on the Gulf Coast West of here have reported that they have some year-round hummers in residence, I hear. So, I'm leaving my feeder out just in case. In any event, the hummers will be back in February or March, latest.

    Another winter is coming and no telling whether it'll be a cold or a warm winter. I favor the warm theory, but there's really no way to tell. Hope your weather holds up well. It's beautiful here now, as MM can attest. Whaddaya 8-)

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