Boidnoise

Various nature recordings by Bernhard Kroeger

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  • My friend owling friend Rudy called on July 22, 2009 and said a friend of his had begging immature western screech owls in his yard.  The area is rural western Nevada County with plenty of houses and barking dogs in among the trees of mixed oak and conifers.  We went before dusk and it wasn’t long before the two juveniles started their begging calls.  The owls appeared not to mind any of the human activities or noises, from someone playing the vibes, dogs barking, talking, etc.  The birds were moving from tree to tree and at times could be seen silhouetted against the sky and were observed moving their heads in all axes, as if on gimbals, trying to figure us out.

    In this recording the two owls are silhouetted against the sky about twenty feet away in an oak tree.  This is their begging call at 2041 on July 23, 2009.

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    The next recording was taken at 2050 after the juveniles had moved to a large oak tree about 10 feet away.  An adult landed in the tree and gave a short bark, which I missed on the recording.  Almost immediately   high pitched, excited calls emanated from the tree, followed by  begging calls from one owl.  We did not observe any food being handed off, but it is possible tha one of the fledgelings got fed, based on just a single bird begging afterward.

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    The following are two primitive attempts at the typical “bouncing ball” call of adult birds as attempted by one of the juveniles.

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    Below is a photo by Rudy Darling of one of the western screech owl juveniles in an alert position.

    Photography: Rudy Darling

    Photography: Rudy Darling

    This is a photo of the same bird moments later in stealth mode. Eyes closed and body skinnier and elongated, with “ears” raised, and a much more “barklike” appearance.

    Photography: Rudy Darling

    Photography: Rudy Darling

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  • While in the Rock Creek Nature area East of Nevada  City, CA on the night of July 18, 2007, great-horned owls were active.  A juvenile was begging, and this female was squawking away.  One could easily mistake this vocalization for a noise normally protested against in social settings with a certain vehemence.  A begging juvenile can be heard faintly in the background (as always, use headphones when possible to get the subtle background sounds).

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  • July 18, 2007, six minutes to three in the Sierra foothills East of Nevada City, CA, looking for owls.  The moon had set hours before, but one could see fairly well by starlight.  I was exploring an area by car and stopping every .2 miles to get out and listen for a while.  Fairly often just the dinging of the key in the ignition alarm when opening the door to get out will set off owls in an area.  At this location I listened for a while and while walking up the road started hearing this odd repetitive hissing noise coming from low out of thick cover ahead.  Not having a clue of what was the cause, I started recording.  During recording I heard a bird moving, so  figured this was a bird of some kind. The regularity and quality of the sound reminded me of an air cylinder cycling.  Thinking about this on the way home it hit me that it also sounded somewhat like someone sharpening a knife on a stone. Saw-whet owl came to mind, as one of their calls supposedly reminds somewhat of sharpening a saw.  I have yet to hear it anywhere, including the internet.  I sent a snippet of the file to Bruce Webb, a local owl expert, and was told that what I had recorded was a juvenile Northern saw-whet owl begging for food.

    The sound at 26.5 sec is the bird moving in the thick cover.

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  • July 23, 2007, hunting for owls above Nevada City, CA I heard this raspy, screechy noise near Rock Creek.  The time was twenty minutes before midnight.  I was perplexed by the call, but figured it might be an owl of some kind and recorded it.  Doing some research afterward I found out that this is a begging call for the great-horned owl.  Another mystery night sound solved.

    This file is 00:01:08 long and contains four calls.  Background is running water and crickets.

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    Here are aother four calls from the same bird in the same location 20 minutes later.

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  • This owl woke me on the evening of January 8, 2009.  It was calling loudly, and I had never heard a 6 note call from a great-horned owl before, only 4 note and 5 note.  I hurried, threw on a coat, and went on the deck with my recording gear and was able to get a series of calls before the owl quit or moved on.  The recording was made at my home on Banner Mountain, near Nevada City, CA.

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  • recorded on the night of June 2-3, 2007 on Mosquito Ridge Road in Placer County, CA with a Marantz PMD-671 recorder and a Telinga dish and twin science microphone.  This is a clear, good quality mostly single hoot recording with a slight echoing quality.

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    this was taken a little later of a different owl.  The quality of the hoot is much different than the one above.  Between 00:05 and 00:10 there are faint audible clicks.  I don’t know if bats can emit clicks that are audible to humans, but bats were flying in the area at the time.

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  • Jon Winter kindly sent me a copy of his Some Critical Notes On Finding And Seeing The Flammulated Owland allowed me to include it on this website.

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  • recorded on July 19, 2007 at on the Lower Cascade Ditch in Nevada City, CA at 2235 with a Foster FR-2LE recorder and Telinga dish with twin science microphone.

    This is the 5 note call typical of the great-horned owl.

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  • recorded in Nevada County with  Fostex FR-2LE Telinga dish and twin science mic on July 20, 2007 at 0120.  This recording is 3:32 minutes long and contains 7 5 note territorial calls of a spotted owl.  There is roughly 30 sec of silence between calls, just as in real life.  It is a thrill to be able to see and hear these birds.  As most owls, they are capable of a mindblowing variation of utterances and vocalizations, and I don’t begin to understand what they might mean.  This call is faintly reminiscent of a neighborhood dog barking in the night, and most people would not be aware that they were listening to an owl.

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  • recorded last fall in Nevada County.  This “chittering” call seems to be an alarm call or sign of annoyance of the northern saw-whet owl.  It is of very short duration and in my experience not repeated.  When playing back or imitating the territorial call of this owl by whistling, I often hear this very quick “chitter” which then often leads to either a “wail” or “toot”.

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    This quick “gurgle” like call may be made by saw-whet owls.  It occasioally hear it in saw-whet habitat and in areas where saw-whets are vocalizing.  I’ve never seen the animal that makes this noise, so this is a guess based on hours out in the woods and gut feeling.  If someone is familiar with this sound, I’d like to hear from you.

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