07 April 2015

Screech Owl in a Carthage Pine

Night-time calls of the Eastern Screech-owl have been heard for many years in the Carthage neighborhood of eastern Omaha. This year, the sounds took on a new significance, as they were repeated night-after-night at a particular spot suitable for a person to listen and make notes of their expressive occurrence. While appreciating the subtle and exquisite owl sounds this year, notes were also kept to indicate the date and time when heard.

Attention to the details meant that a timeline of call sounds was compiled which indicates the particular intervals when the resident screech-owl sat among the pine tree branches and called forth into the night. The sounds indicated that it was its territory. It is not known if there was a search for a season's mate, though hopefully there is a pair in the community, and they will find a suitable residence and raise some young owlets! Only the owl knows.

Notes on the sounds of the screech owl were kept from mid-March through early April when the usual sounds no longer occurred.

The sound of this owl was quite obvious as heard above the din and dissonance of urban Omaha. This particular bird was most active after midnight and for the next few hours, based upon what was heard.

This owl was obviously cognizant of the ambient sounds of the neighborhood. The bird was quiet when there where noises associated with vehicular traffic, planes or helicopters flying above, barking dogs, loud resident voices and other sorts of obtrusive noise. The tempo of the calls would decrease when noises were pervasive, i.e., there would be a longer interlude between the calls.

Weather was also an influence. When there were thunderstorms, the owl was silent until after the rain was gone.

The owl obviously liked its spot in the pine tree, as there were multiple nights when it was vocal multiple times. Early in the season, the little owl would vocalize once and then again, and then there would be an interlude of silence. Then the sound of the owl would occur again when it returned to a roost of choice and convey its calls some more times. The owl would vocalize once and then there was a period of time when nothing was heard. Then the calls occurred again in a similar routine. Where it went elsewhere is not known because my listening was done indoors from a comfortable spot.

During the early hours when heard, the expressions of the owl were quick and brief, the duration notably just ten minutes or less, as ten minutes was the shortest time span considered for the timeline of the owl sounds.

Near the end of March, the little owl with its vocal expressions happened about every 30-40 seconds for a time of more than an hour, as considered.

On March 26th, as the bird vocalized from 4:35 to 4:45 a.m., the notes seemed to have less vibrato and was abbreviated a couple of times. The voice also seemed to have less volume. The difference was significant enough that there was a personal thought that it was maybe a different bird?

During the night of March 28th, the owl sounded off for one hour and 20 minutes. This was the longest duration at this locale during the entire time of when records were kept.

As dawn approached on one night, the sounds of the owl were less than regular, and less strident. The owl sounds seemed to not be as loud as it had typically been earlier in the night.

Of course, the screech owl knows nothing about all of this. It continues to survive in the manner of which it knows best. Continue on screech owl!

The Eastern Screech-owl was not heard again until the morning of May 12th at 2:25 a.m. It was in its usual tree and only vocalized for a few minutes.