Owl prowl at Cook Forest   NR, Cook Forest Env. Ed.
  Oct 16, 2003 18:26 PDT 


We had 1 osprey on the Clarion River just downstream from the 4 mile canoe launch yesterday, 10/15/03. He was perched on a conspicuous snag on the opposite side of the river that split into 2 trunks about 20ft up. I will look for him hear more often, maybe it is one of his preferred perches.

We had an owl prowl tonight. What a treat. We had one saw whet owl that let out one almost inaudible "toot" in the Forest Cathedral. The real experience though was the 4 barred owls "monkey calling" at the intesection of Coleman Run and Jacks Hollow Road... great place for 'Shaggy Mane" mushrooms too.

The first owl came right in on me on my 3rd call. He didn't answer, but he almost landed on my head! I couldn't hear him, but he hovered just out of arms reach above my head. I could barely see him, but boy could I feel the wind on my face! He then perched in a tree in perfect view of the crowd for the next 50 minutes. We were soon joined by 3 other barred owls who proceeded to wake the whole woods up. It was a huge learning curve experience. They were "monkey calling" right there in front of us. It was definitely a special night. I eventually just had to leave them there calling. It was getting late, and I wanted to make sure they got a feed in during the night.

Cook Forest is truely a special place.

Re: owl prowl at Cook Forest   Paul Jost
  Oct 16, 2003 20:16 PDT 

My wife and I have had similar barred owl experiences while backcountry
camping in the Porcupine Mountain hemlock stands. Once, just as we were
falling asleep after darkness fell in the hemlocks where we camped, several
barred owls hooted in the distance: hoo hoo hoo-hoo, hoo hoo
hoo-hoo-aawwrrrrr. They called back and forth to eachother in the distance
and worked their way closer in the full moonlight. Eventually, they settled
on the hemlocks a dozen feet above our heads as needles shook loose from the
branches and fell onto our tent. They continued to call loudly back and
forth for what seemed like an our before leaving.   We enjoyed the
performance so much that we did not interrupt them. We quickly fell asleep
when the left.

Another time, while bow hunting for deer until twilight, I watched a barred
owl fly across a nearby clearing and land in a tree. A few minutes later,
he glided to a closer tree. I was wearing full camoflage, including a
headnet over my face, so I was sure that he couldn't see me. I watched the
owl take off and head my way. Silently, he glided toward me. He came
straight for me and I thought that it was cool that he was going to land in
the branch right above my head. Apparently, I looked like a stub of a tree
trunk because he stretched his talons toward my face and began braking flaps
with his wings as he prepared to land on my head. Shocked and suddenly
scared to be clawed on my scalp, I instinctively raised my arm and ducked
down. This startled the owl and he took off for his own safety, not to be
seen again that night.

Ahh, owls... many times, I have been "buzzed" by screech owls when walking
out of the woods well after twilight. It is amazing how bold those little
things get once the darkness is in their favor. They get very defensive
near their nests and a hiker unknowingly struts by.

Now, we have occasional visits from great horned owls and barred owls in the
bur oaks around our home.

I am particularly looking forward to their intense calling this winter
during their mating season in January or February, if I recall correctly.

I've had other close encounters with owls and calling them in, but I don't
want to ramble on too much...

Paul Jost