Freaky Owl…..

Barn Owl, J. Kohut-Bartels, 1999, watercolor

Tonight I heard something really strange.  Close enough to draw my attention.  Downright scary in fact.

I went outside,  remembering I hadn’t closed up the chicken coop (I have 11 girls in there, but only counted 10 tonight) and heard this sound in the back fields of kudzu.  There used to be a stand of 9 acres of forest, but the stupid city of Atlanta sold off this property to a California development company who  came in two years ago and ripped up most of the trees.  We were lucky they left the huge oaks on one side, and some pines and oaks on the other side.  In the middle grew kudzu, the Japanese import that covers everything standing still in the South.

Ok, I admit to being  really scared.  This was an unearthly sound and something I haven’t heard  quite like that before.   I took a flashlight, grabbed a stick and walked towards the hen house.  What I was going to do with the  stick I hadn’t  a clue, but I was prepared.

It was loud.  I wondered  whether it was a dying dog, racoon, something out  there.  I closed the hens in and listened.  Whatever it was it was really close.

(I confess:  I closed myself in with the hens for a few moments, because they were restless, and I thought I was safer with my girls.  Whatever was out there was very near.  And must be Big.)

I finally decided it was an owl, had to be.  What kind of owl I didn’t have a clue, so I came back in, (the bird still hooting) and spent an hour on the internet listening to all the different kinds of owl sounds.  The closest I could come to was a Barred Owl.  But I wouldn’t want to be a hen around one.  I have read owls will raid a chicken coop, then kill all the hens for fun.  They will eat their fill, but they are chicken killers just because roosting hens are sleepy and don’t move much.  They are pretty torpid on the roost.

I can still hear it hooting away, but it won’t  get chicken on the hoof tonight.  This will teach me to close up the hens each night.  A few years ago, neighborhood dogs got under the fence and killed 12 of our 18 hens roosting.  It was a horrible thing to confront at 4am in the rain.  We were burying hens for days as they died.

I have a painting I did back in ’99 of an Owl….one of my favorite paintings.  It was when  I went from oils to watercolor and fell in love with the medium.  I’m pretty sure this painting is of a Barn Owl, not a Barred Owl.

Funny, the city of Atlanta is 3 miles away and one wouldn’t think that owls, hawks and peregrines would be flying around.  But what happens as humans take over fields, land, and develop housing, birds  adapt and find their hunting and nesting territory where they can.  Humans with their trash bring birds looking for rats and other small animals and birds of prey help with that issue.

If I can I’m going to post the audio file I found that sounded pretty much  what I was hearing outside tonight.  It was the sound of a Barred Owl, not a Great Horned Owl.

In any case, it’s a good introduction to Fall, and possibilities  of this season.  A full moon tonight, and great expectations of further mysteries.

Lady Nyo

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8 Responses to “Freaky Owl…..”

  1. Margie Says:

    You are braver than me, for sure! When I hear strange noises I tend to lock myself into the house – although I have no chickens to protect! LOL! Today is the first day it’s been cool enough to open the windows for the entire day – I’m loving it. It’s been raining and so it’s a little damp feeling in here, but it’s so cool and fresh!

    Hope all your chickens are in their places in the morning!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Margie!!

    Yes, it’s finally cooled off down here, too. Perhaps too cool. In the 50’s overnight and low 60’s during yesterday. Blankets, and I put my ugg boots on yesterday. LOL! That rain was the first in a month. Yikes.

    People wrote to me and said that was a funny entry. But—I was really scared of what-was-out-there. Funny, it’s only three miles from downtown Atlanta, but it is pitch black at night. Feels like the mountains with no light.

    Now that I know it was a Barred Owl, I had another incident with it the night following. One of my Barred Rock hens got in the front yard when it started to rain. In fact, I left the double gates in the driveway open and they all got out. Got them all back in the back, except one stubborn hen. We let her stay in the front garden overnight and about 1am heard this horrible screeching. Ran downstairs and started to check the dogs, cats, and finally went outside. There on the side fence was the owl, and a large one was she. I shined my flashlight at her and caught her eyes. She rather casually extended her wings and flew off….Boy! She had to have a wing span of about 5 feet, and my heart almost stopped. Didn’t find the hen and thought she probably was dead and I disturbed her kill.

    Next morning opened the side gate from the other end and this ball of feathers fell out before me. She was ok, but left a trail of plucked feathers behind. Though it was risin’ time for chickens, all she wanted to do was go back to her hen house. She stayed in there most of the day, sleeping it off.

    Funny…Barred Rock Hen and Barred Owl. I ought to write a collection of stories called: “Rural happenings in an Urban Setting”. Who would think on the outskirts of a major city that we would have so much wildlife?

    And some too close for comfort.



  3. Rose Says:

    Hey, Jane,

    The barred owls around our place are pretty shy, but occasionally, in the dead of winter, or near the end, when the snow is really deep, they start showing up during the daytime, rather than just at night. I’ve never actually heard one, but we have had them (one at a time, only) come an perch on one of the branches of the bird feeder tree. Probably waiting for a squirrels or birds to show up, which they won’t do as long as the owl is there. (Although the chickadees still seem to be bold enough to come and get the sunflower seeds, even with the owl is there.)

    First time I saw the barred owl, I was so pleased. Owls are so elusive. I named the first one I saw, who hung around for a few days, “Shakespeare.” (Get it? Huh, huh? A “bard” owl? Nyuk, nyuk))

    Rose 😉


  4. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! ONLY you, Rose…..

    Yeah, they are pretty shy, except when they are scaring old women and chickens.

    It’s amazing what your mind presents in the dark of night….alone…with a flashlight that is dying and a small stick. LOL!

    Good to hear from you, Rose. As you see, it’s not just Owls lately, but a lot of poetry and work. This new group, OneStopPoetry is great….and a lot of excellent poetry there, too. Very supportive and welcoming. I think poets, being the ‘out-tribe’ of humanity…need to find their own.

    Wow,….chickadees are REALLY bold to feed when an owl is around. I remember a wonderful photo you took (last year??) of an owl outside a window. If you have it still, would you email it to me? I’d like to paint a version of your lovely photo. Thanks if you can.

    I’m trying to paint the cover of “White Cranes of Heaven”….4 Cranes with a very large moon in the background….actually anything that large intrudes into the whole painting….LOL!..

    So glad this torrid summer is over….way too long down here this year and way too hot. We have days now of 70’s and nights of 50’s. Perfect weather. Makes you want to go outside and see what has happened to Nature while you were suffering inside.

    I bet you have the perfect weather in your area.

    Good to hear from you, Rose. My very best to you and Joe.



  5. Jingle Says:

    love the owl image,


  6. Jingle Says:
    I sincerely invite you to join us for a Monday Poetry Potluck party, bring in 1 to 3 poem treats to share via the link on the top! You could use an old poem.

    beautiful blog.


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Jingle! Just checked out your blog and linked it through today’s poem.

    Thank you so much! It’s a lovely invitation, and I am honored.

    Lady Nyo


  8. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! I like him, too. One of my earlier paintings…..

    Lady Nyo


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