This story starts off one early summer morning. It was just a little before 6 in the morning when I headed outside to listen to the birds waking up. As I got out the door it was still dark, but light was starting to appear on the horizon. Everything was still quiet except I noticed one of the most bizarre sounds I have ever heard. It sounded like a soft airy whistle rising in pitch and I had no idea what it was. This was new to me.
My first thought was that it was some sort of Owl but I wasn't sure and also considered the possibility that it was some other sort of nocturnal bird or maybe an insect. The sound wasn't very loud but it was very distinct & repeated over and over again.
I went to sit down and continued listening. As the birds started to wake up the sound changed locations and pretty soon had abandoned the landscape I was in. It was clearly coming from in the tree canopy but I didn't get a chance to see what was making the sound so I had to settle for calling it a mystery.
A few days went by and I was out on the lawn one afternoon enjoying the sun when I noticed robin alarms coming from the trees a few houses down. I listened and noticed that it sounded like the parabolic alarm that you would see around a nest robber, or a cat, or an owl. I was leaning towards cat even though looking back on it now; the alarms probably had too much intensity to be a house-cat. This was more like the response I would see towards a bobcat but we don’t have bobcats in this neighborhood. I noticed that the alarms would occasionally stop altogether but that if I kept my ear out for long enough it would start up again. There was definitely something going on but I didn't make the link to that sound I had heard the other morning. Another mystery... I wasn't sure if I'd be able to solve this one.
That evening however I was sitting outside eating dinner with my family when we heard the sound again. It was very close and I recounted the story from the other morning and wondered if we could get a look at it. Then suddenly my mom pointed up in one of the oaks and said, "There's a big bird up in that tree. I think that’s what's making the sound." I ran to get my binoculars and we confirmed that it was a barred owl.
But there was something off about this owl. Something about it felt different than other barred owls I had seen in the past. It looked a bit different from other barred owls I had seen & it’s behavior seemed a bit dopey for lack of a better word, plus it was making this strange noise.
Did it have something to do with gender?
Time of year?
Maybe it was a juvenile... I went to my computer and found a recording of the sound. Sure enough... it's a juvenile. That’s why it was acting so strangely and making that sound.
Another mystery solved... but that did not prepare me for what would happen over the next few days. I'll post the next part of the story soon.