[CT Birds] Reading 6

Dennis Varza dennisvz at optonline.net
Wed Aug 17 08:53:49 EDT 2011

Reading 6
Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is the only large-sized Owl with conspicuous ear- 
tufts, hence his significant name.

More on this later, D.

Certainly this “tiger” bird can not be included among the song birds,  
but as certainly we can not throw out his hoot from the musical  
calculation.  Mr. Cheney writes: “ One winter, after six weeks of  
cold, perhaps the severest in fifteen years, the weather moderated,  
and the 3rd of March was a comparatively mild day. An Owl felt the  
change, and in his gladness sent down ponderous vesper notes from the  
mountain, which, as they came booming across the valley, bore joy to  
all that heard them . . . The Owl did not change the weather, the  
weather changed the Owl!

The author then proceeds to describe the hoot of the owl and ends  

This exactly describes the nature of the tones , and it is  
unnecessary to say more, except that few writers have given us any  
record of the stream of the creature.

When that note comes one will think he hears the “crack o’ doom.” If  
the Screech Owl’s note is weird, this is horrible: it has the sound  
of murder in it; no cat on the back-yard fence can produce a yell as  
hideous! Mr Chapman says that call “is a loud piercing scream, one of  
the most blood-curdling sounds I have ever heard in the woods” From a  
creature whose habit it is to be out all night hunting, one must  
expect something grewsome.  Upon hearing the screech for the first  
time one’s mind instinctively reverts to the line in Scott’s Lady of  
the Lake

“At once there rose so wild a yell
Within the dark and narrow dell,
As all the fiends, from heaven that fell,
Had pealed the banner-cry of hell!”

Thus far, nobody has ventured to call this note the Great Horned  
Owl’s love song!

First off, I don’t have that much experience with owls and they are  
my weakest group.
But, I don’t recall coming across a Great Horned Owl screech before.
Might the above description be referred to the Long-eared Owl which  
is more well known for such noises?

I would like an authority to comment on this.

Dennis Varza

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