Saturday, June 5, 2010

Going All Squirrely Over Owls

It all started on my birthday when we were sitting in the dark out on the porch and D and K heard the call of a flying squirrel. With all the frogs, crickets, cicadas, etc, neither B nor I were able to hear what they heard.  Of course, we didn’t really know what to listen for.  Sometime after that, we Googled the sound of flying squirrels and got a better idea of what to listen for.

Last week, B went out to get the newspaper in the very early morning and thought he heard a flying squirrel. That night we sat out on the porch in the dark and listened for a long time to the same sound calling back and forth from one  tree very near the porch to one across the yard. We were so excited. The following morning, we called D to tell him what we had heard. He suggested we try to located them with lights, which we tried the next evening, unsuccessfully. I even shared with my students about our exciting discovery.


So, now fast forward to Sunday. We took a drive, and along a country highway, we saw the barred owl below perched. It is rather unusual to see them out like this in the afternoon sun.



That evening, we walked around the block and as we returned to our cul-de-sac, we heard the back and forth call of the flying squirrels.  I got the binoculars and, even though the shadows had really fallen, I wanted to see if we might be able to see the flying squirrels. I could see what looked like a hole in the big oak and focused the binoculars on that spot. I was surprised to see a barred owl looking back at me. Then B found the second owl in an adjacent treetop.


It was then that we realized we had been had!

We have lots of barred owls in our neighborhood and love to hear their many calls, especially in the spring when they are mating. Several years ago, we had heard the whistling sound that the juvenile barred owls use to communicate with their mother. But we had forgotten.

So back to Google we went. The sounds are similar, but the Southern flying squirrel is a higher pitched sound.

We will just have to keep listening. Chances are, we do have flying squirrels, too.

A funny thing is that while we were listening in the dark, we had seen two barred owls flying and kind of worried that they might come for the flying squirrels.


Floridacracker said...

Great owl shots! Looks like my yard.

S N B said...

Hey, thanks, FC! Coming from the owl master, I consider that high praise! And welcome to summer and, I assume, congratulations to your graduate!