Critters and Creatures

We have a nice little piece of property, but even if we didn’t we would still have lots of extra “friends” roaming around our garden. Cats are one thing but we’ve had many other kinds of visitors.

This last winter we had quite a few mice. And who wouldn’t want to be where it’s warm and there might be a crumb on the floor or a garbage bin to poke around in. Never mind that there are two cats… CATS! Amaya (our black cat) and Ollie (our white with black polka dots) certainly worked overtime this winter. They would either leave us a gift (I thought it was a toy and reached down to pick it up!) or they would hang on to their prize for dear life even if it was still… well…. wiggling. Ew.

Now the only visitors that we have in the house that aren’t our kitties are what we hope are birds nesting in a hole in the NW eve. It still sounds creepy with all that scratching about…

Early in the spring we had a wonderful and colorful surprise of loads of warblers that made their way through to warmer places. Their stay of a few weeks was a lovely, cheery and colorful experience. They’re so tiny!

But aside from those friends we’ve had visits by the nocturnal branch of the bird family. Owls. One night when outside hanging out by the campfire/fire pit we heard a massive amount of feathers float down from a telephone pole. It was a huge owl that had landed on the ground to catch a mouse. It looked at us completely nonplussed and just observed as if we were some sort of mild oddity… but not really all that interesting. Still he/she hung out for a bit and I managed to get some quick shots:

Mr. Barred Owl

Mr. Barred Owl

Turns out he’s a barred owl, relative to a spotted owl. Actually the barred owls are coming from the east coast and are threatening the habitat of the spotted owl. Go figure. This owl makes a lovely “who cooks for you” call.

We’ve also been seeing lots of western screech owls this spring and summer. These owls are adorably small, but I still wouldn’t want to mess with them. We’ve been hearing strange sounds at night in the tree just outside our bedroom window and thought it to be bats. It’s a squeaky, dry, hiccupy kind of sound. Last night we discovered while sitting out in the cool evening that the sound was actually coming from the western screech! Normally they make a trilling sound that quickens as it goes. Try to imagine a ping-pong ball getting dropped. It’s a light sound that gets faster as the ball starts to settle to being on the ground. Now imagine that kind of sound but on a note. That’s what this owl sounds like most times. We’ve heard them calling with that sound and getting a response in slow, low tones from a different area. We figure it must have to do with mating.

But back to this sqeaky owl sound… We figured out that the noisy owl was a baby and the owl that kept leaving and coming back (presumably with food) was the mama. We watched the feeding process over and over. They didn’t seem to mind us very much and Ian even got into a mimicking game with the baby while he was waiting for mama to come back!

Downy baby screech

Downy baby screech

Ian and the baby having a 'conversation'

Ian and the baby having a 'conversation'

Mama screech (she looks intense!)

Mama screech (she looks intense!)

We hope that we get to see more of them. Supposedly they nest in the same spot for years. Maybe we’ll get to see baby grow up!

2 responses to “Critters and Creatures

  1. Cool!!! Have you seen the owls again? This makes me wonder what is going on in my backyard….

  2. wicked awesome. they should keep close to your house. you’ll be good stewards. i heart owls.

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