In the night and early morning hours, sometimes just before dawn, I have heard the owl’s gentle call as it hunts on silent wings. A few days ago we got to add a visual image to the audio. The owl perched on our awning for a couple of hours before dusk, letting us get very close. Every once in a while it would clack its beak at us if we got too close. Then as soon as the sun went behind the trees it carefully preened its feathers, running its short beak over the long tail feathers, lifting up its body feathers like a skirt to reveal the unexpected long legs covered in fur-like white down, almost like fluffy tights. Its whole image like some old monkish woman in a shawl, patient and ancient. And suddenly it stretched out silent wings and glided away into the shadows over the neighbors roof.
I looked at some pictures and found out that it is a barred owl. At first we thought it a young great gray, which people had sighted in the neighborhood, that had wandered away from its parents, and which I thought I had been hearing. But I think it more likely I had heard this one.