One evening this past week we had some wildlife excitement. Our neighbor across the street called me and asked me to come listen to the strange animal sound in her garage. She thought it sounded like a rattlesnake. I went into the garage and heard the sound, but thought it was too loud for a rattlesnake and might sound more like a possum or raccoon trapped in there. I went to get my husband, who was raised in the country, to help us out with whatever was making that strange, rattling, sound. He came with his flashlight and listened with us. He immediately said it was a baby screech owl. Wow!
We knew it was possible that it was a baby screech owl because another neighbor had bought two owl houses and put them up a couple of years ago. She told us that male and female owls do not live together but need two houses. We had determined earlier that the across-the-street neighbor had a female Winston Churchowl and three owlets in their house. Unfortunately, the baby owlets had already fallen out of the nest a couple of times and she had put them back. She was very worried because a couple of neighborhood cats were eagerly awaiting a dinner of baby owlet!
When we located the source of the sound in the garage and shined a flashlight into the corner, we saw the fluffy, round baby owlet making his pathetic little screech and hunkered down on his huge feet. Our neighbor, with thick gloves, lifted him (or her??) into a box and took him back into her yard where her husband climbed her tall ladder and, once again, put him back into the owl house. All the time we were in the backyard accomplishing this task the mother owl was frantically flying back and forth just over our heads.
The across-the-street neighbor left on a trip the next day and assigned us the job of looking out for her baby owlets. I went over and looked around the yard for signs of baby owlets. I looked up at the owl house and thought I saw the mother standing guard on the "porch" of the owl house. I ran home, grabbed my camera, and got this picture! The ornithologist from whom the houses were purchased says this is one of the babies! He said, "the photo is a nestling -- notice the thin horizontal barring (not vertical like on the adult)."
This wildlife adventure is one of the things that makes this such an interesting neighborhood!