For over a month now, there’s been a lonely voice calling out to us in the early evening. Sometimes a week will go by and I’ll think it has left, but then I’ll hear it again as I step out for firewood: “Who’s awake? Me … Too …” Yes, I’m awake, and I’m talking about a Great Horned Owl.
When I first heard the sound, it triggered a memory from a camping trip as a kid. One night at an Indiana state park, we joined up with a dozen people tromping around in the woods on a Ranger-led owl calling hike. Assorted poorly rendered owl calls broke the silence–futile attempts to lure in one of the puzzled birds. I don’t think we heard any actual owls on that occasion, but the call mnemonic is permanently engraved in my synapses.
Great Horned Owls range across all of the Americas, from the beech-maple forests of my midwest childhood, to the towering stands of conifers outside our window, and from Alaska to the Straits of Magellan. There’s probably one sitting in a tree near you right now.