Again with the Apparitions

Short barn owl clip:

Longer, narrated barn owl sound:

As earlier disclosed in this space, some barn owls have moved into the neighborhood. We've been hearing them during our late night walk almost every night for the last month or so. A few nights ago, I remembered an episode while visiting my friend Randy when he lived just outside Twin Falls, Idaho. He had a house down in a little canyon, and some barn owls roosted in the clefts of a sheer face right along the road. He mentioned that they'd fly out around sunset, and one evening we walked up to watch. I think we saw two or three owls on the cliff face, apparently asleep. After sunset they all seemed to wake together and, as if on a signal, they flew out into the dusk.

We went up to the date palm where the local barn owls are nesting, also just after sunset. After watching for 10 minutes at most, we saw a pair of owls emerge from the fronds and wing off to the west; a minute or so later, a second pair came out and flew east. Until dark, we could see them flying all over the neighborhood. It made us wonder how many times they've been around and we've failed to see them.

We also met the woman above whose home the owl palm stands. She's become a student of the birds. She thinks they are an adult pair and two or three young. She had a great story about their arrival: On night one they began clearing dead palm fronds from a section of the tree; on night two, they "cleaned house," throwing down small-animal skeleton, bits of old nests, and other debris they found in their intended perch. She said she loves having the birds there, though they've gotten pretty messy what with discarded owl pellets and daily excreta.

Last weekend, I tried to record some of the sound we've been hearing. I have no idea how it will come out, but I've embedded a couple clips above. The first is short (30-some seconds) and includes what I thought was a warning or alarm from one of the birds. The second is longer (11 minutes) and includes me narrating the "action." Don't know how they'll sound via Typepad — in an earlier experiment the sound was awfully low.

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