Monday, November 30, 2015
Whoo Is That Owl?
It’s that time of year again. The owls are very active finding mates, defending territories, and preparing their nests for babies.
It’s a great time to see and hear owls right in your own backyard! But sometimes it can be a little bit tricky figuring out just Whoo you are observing. This especially happens when you only hear an owl calling without ever seeing one.
Coal, one of WBS's resident Great Horned Owls (photo: Paige Davis)
In Missouri, as well as in many other areas in the United States, the most common owls that you will encounter are Great-Horned Owl and Barred Owl. Since it is more common to hear an owl than to see one, it is a great idea to familiarize yourself with their calls.
The Great-Horned Owl has that stereotypical hoot you hear in a spooky movie. It is said to sound like they are saying, “Hoot-a-hoot, hoo-hoo, who's awake? Me too!” To hear what they sound like Click Here.
Jersey, WBS's resident Barred Owl (photo: Paige Davis)
The Barred Owl makes a variety of calls. They can sometimes even sound like monkeys making all sorts of racket in the forest. Their classic call is said to sound like, “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?” By familiarizing yourself with these owl calls, you can identify an owl species without ever seeing it. To hear what a Barred Owl sounds like Click Here.
Both the Great-Horned Owl and the Barred Owl are larger sized owls. The Great-Horned Owl stands about 22 inches tall and has a 4.5 foot wingspan with females being larger than males. They are mottled gray-brown, with a white patch on the throat, and ear-like tufts atop their head that resemble horns. Their eyes are large and yellow.
The Barred Owl stands about 20 inches tall and has a 4 foot wingspan with females being larger than males. They are gray and white overall, with dark bars of feathers going down their chest. The wings and tail are barred brown and white. Their eyes are very dark brown, which can look completely black from afar. The Barred Owl does not have ear tufts like the Great-Horned Owl does, and instead has a rounded head.
Although these are the two most common owls you may encounter, there are many other owl species that live here in North America. Just a few of the other native species include the Eastern Screech Owl, Barn Owl, Long-Eared Owl, Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Short-Eared Owl, and Snowy Owl.
If you would like the opportunity to meet many owl species up close and personal, come to one of World Bird Sanctuary’s Owl Prowls! The Prowls Feature live flying owls and an easy night hike to try to call in resident wild owls. It is a great program for any owl lover.
Owl Prowls take place on select dates from November-March starting at 7 pm.
To learn more about the World Bird Sanctuary Owl Prowls CLICK HERE.
Submitted by Paige Davis, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist