One of our Glen Echo neighbors, Chris O’Leary, reported that a pair of barred owls have been permanent residents in the ravine for the past three or four years. I’ve not had the privilege of seeing or hearing these amazing birds, although our neighbor, John, indicated that he has heard them from his backyard. I did listen a few times for them, but no luck. However, here’s what information I have about the owls, courtesy of Chris:
- They roost in the large pines in the neighborhoods surrounding the ravine by day.
- The best chance to see them during the day is when the crows find them and chase them through the neighborhood.
- Occasionally the owls will call to one another in the middle of the afternoon.
- They have been seen flying over the bridges at Indianola and Arcadia at dusk. (This isn’t good, as being hit by a car is the biggest threat to urban owls.)
- The owls leave the pine trees at dusk and can be seen heading towards the ravine to hunt.
- One evening Chris watched the male perched over his neighbor’s pond watching the koi. (Which reminds me of the blue heron that we had in our backyard that ate a few of the goldfish in our pond.)
- The female has not been seen since December, which may mean she’s nesting in a tree cavity. Wouldn’t that be wonderful to see the little ones!
- Their call has been described as sounding like “who cooks for you, who cooks for youuuuu”. Sometimes their call is an otherworldly cackle. You can listen at the birdjam website http://www.birdjam.com/birdsong.php?id=47
Chris also stated that screech owls nested in the ravine for years, but with the recent arrival of the barred owls, the screech owls have disappeared. One evening in May, neighbors on Cliffside Drive were able to watch screech owlets (see the photo to the left) practicing their flying skills, landing awkwardly on the stone fence and in low tree branches. You can listen the screech owl call here. They are quite different sounding from the barred owls. I don’t hear a “screech,” so if anyone can tell me why they are called screech owls, I’d love to know.
Thanks to David Brown for the wonderful photos of the Glen Echo owls.
Until next time!