Great horned owl comes out as fall approaches
The sounds of night are beginning to change in the Tennessee Valley. Because there is now more night than day, it’s bringing out one bird of prey that you’ll begin hearing more from in the coming weeks: the great horned owl.
The summer sounds of crickets and frogs are coming to an end as we continue to lose two minutes of daylight each day this month. Now, it’s the great horned owl’s turn as early nesting is taking place now.
“This is the first raptor to nest,” says Tish Gailmard of Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.
The nesting phase is courtship time. On average, only one or two owls will occupy a square mile, making the great horned owl very territorial.
Gailmard says if you enjoy hearing the owl and want to hear more, hoot back!
"Call back to them. Even though your call may not be real good, call back, sometimes they'll answer you, and then you can hone in on where they are,” Gailmard said.
This king of the sky doesn’t have many predators because of their excellent hearing and vision.
"They're big and yellow, to let the moonlight in at night, so they can see better,” states Gailmard.
Gailmard added that the owl likes to be near edges, where the forest meets a field. They’ll be located high up, in a mature tree on a thick limb. As temperatures dip, and trees lose their leaves, the owl’s hooting becomes more noticeable by winter.
The best time to hear hooting is between dusk and 10 p.m. Until daylight saving ends in November, you may hear early hooting again around 7 in the morning.