Night Owls

As you may already know, I’m a night owl.  I am most productive at night when I’m supposed to be asleep in bed.  Right now, I should be lying down under the covers, but at this moment I’d rather get up from this desk and vacuum the house.  (I’m not going to.  My brother and our dogs have already called it a night.)

While working on my laptop late last night, I heard a barred owl hooting outside.  I live in a very wooded neighborhood, so owls, along many other different wild animals, are common around here.

I remember when I was 11 years old, one of my best friends at that time lived across the street.  Her parents had a cassette tape recording of barred owl calls.  Many a balmy summer night, our families and a very sweet married couple who lived next door to us, Dale and Arlene, would gather on one of our porches, usually Dale and Arlene’s porch or my friend’s porch, with a cassette tape player playing the owl calls.  We would listen to the owls in our woods call back.  It sounded like all of them were having a friendly conversation among themselves.  We never saw any of the owls (to this day, I’ve never seen a barred owl in person), but it was entertaining for all of us.  Of course, we would always talk and laugh during those nightly gatherings, as well.  The sound of a barred owl always takes me back to my childhood and brings back those short-lived (my friend moved out of state the following year) yet happy memories.

I learned that year that owls don’t always just hoot or screech when they communicate with each other.  The barred owl also makes this vocal sound that, when I was 11, I described as something like a human baby’s laugh.  It was sort of a half laugh, half screech sound.

Barred owls can also make sounds like nothing I would ever imagine coming from a bird.

I will never forget one night when I was about 14 years old, give or take a year.  For some reason, I went outside the house after dark.  All I heard were crickets in the eerie stillness of the night.  I walked into the backyard, and out of nowhere I heard an unearthly shriek coming from what sounded like Dale and Arlene’s backyard.  Think of R2-D2’s squeal (for lack of a better word) in Star Wars Episode IV when he gets shot by the jawas on Tatooine, except louder and longer in duration.  That one owl’s voice started a flurry of conversation among other nearby owls, who vocalized their hoots and screeches with abandon.  I didn’t stay outside long enough to know how long the noise lasted because as soon as that one owl’s fabulous R2-D2 imitation pierced through the darkness, I jumped out of my skin and bolted for the house.  From what I could tell, though, the ruckus didn’t last long.

I haven’t heard any barred owls tonight.  I probably won’t because, whether I like it or not, I need to go to bed now.  I have a long To Do list to attack as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, and unfortunately, living on a night owl’s schedule is not conducive to being productive.

Before I turn in for the night, I want to share a recording of a barred owl for any of you who may not have heard what one sounds like.  This particular clip has the hoots and the “baby” sound I tried to describe, but you’ll have to use your imagination for the R2-D2 owl.  🙂


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