I entered the Fox Park parking lot at approximately 5:30, about an hour before sunrise. 32 degrees, partly cloudy, and very dark and supremely quiet.
I didn’t have to wait 5 minutes after settling into a comfortable standing position to hear the first of 2 fat clues about my owl buddy at Fox park. Three sonorous “whoos” reverberated across the surrounding fields and white pine trees, followed by some muffled humming and burbling over the drone from the highway about half a mile away. What luck! The thing to know about this scenario however is these whoos were higher pitched than “ye average” great horned owl, BUT were far from the “hawws” and other gurgles the barred owls make.
The second clue about this sound (and I heard it one more about 10 minutes later) is how a classmate recently described exactly what I heard today to me. “It was saying Whoo! but it was started going up, then down to some quieter sounds.” This was heard not far from Fox Park, near Langdon Woods. That forest has a great field used for light football training by humans, and critter hunting by birds of prey no doubt. This is well within an average great horned owls “zone”- in fact, owls have been seen occupying a 25 mile radius of space as a residence. That means no other GHOs are allowed to live there. Quite territorial, and have interesting family/land relationship patterns because of the vast zones required for a proper turf. This is almost entirely the reason the GHO is both widespread and thus “common” and essentially impossible to find, making it a treat to locate.
So, I know this pattern is very likely a GHO after two pairs of ears have heard it and agree. So…
As usual, after the second “whoo” and maybe 10 minutes of standing in the parking lot a sole cardinal started singing. Then, one by one, the local crows woke up and decided the calling owl was a significant problem (they decide this every day) and started up with the tomfoolery we can expect from them. On that laural, I was sure the owl would be silent to give the crows a sporting chance at hide and seek, so I left, after a bit more than 30 minutes in the parking lot.