Date: 10/21/18 8:26 pm From: Gary Bletsch <garybletsch...> Subject: [Tweeters] Great Horned Owl sounding like Spotted Towhee
This evening (21st October 2018), my 100th and final bird species of the day was the Great Horned Owl. This was at the Fir Island Game Range in Skagit County.
At first, I did not know what I was hearing. There was a flurry of activity as the light was fading at about 1815 hours. Spotted Towhees and Fox Sparrows were especially vocal, suddenly showing themselves after being hard to view all afternoon.
I kept hearing an odd, Spotted-Towhee-like call, coming from the woods near the boat-launch parking area, the same area where Great Horned Owls have nested several times over the last few years. I kept trying to convince myself that I was hearing towhees, but there was something screechy about this vocalization, and eventually, I was able to locate a Great Horned Owl. It was making the call, as was a second, unseen Great Horned Owl.
The GHOW that I could see appeared to be an adult, although by this time of year, young birds would probably look a lot like their parents. There were at least two birds making the odd, "Ch'wee!" call. It was not as blood-curdling a call as the screeches I have heard this speces make. Only fifteen or twenty minutes did I start hearing hooting calls.
I have heard various screeching and "scraping" notes from Great Horned Owls over the years, but I had never heard one sound so much like a towhee before.
Interestingly enough, a few minutes before this, I had also observed a Barn Owl flying very high up in the sky, in good light. I don't think I have ever seen a Barn Owl flying that high up--several hundred meters aloft. It headed in the direction of Hayton Reserve.
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