As I type this I’m sitting on the balcony of my house, enjoying a truly beautiful spring evening. My “house,” which I share with three other interns, is actually the top two floors of a building that’s also a raptor rehabilitation center, and the balcony overlooks the cages housing our permanent-resident Bald Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks, among others. The outside area where the permanent residents are on display is open to the public, which occasionally gets interesting.
Earlier this afternoon I was in my bedroom when I heard a very persistent “Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!” outside my window. Now, one of the perks of living here is falling asleep every night to the calls of Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls, but this was neither. This was a man trying to entice our Barred Owls into doing something amusing to entertain his children, the auditory equivalent of tapping on the glass. (For the record, a Barred Owl call actually sounds roughly like “WHO COOKS for YOU? WHO COOKS for YOU-all?”, not “Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! C’mon, hoo!”) However, never let it be said that owls don’t have a sense of humor. Our pair of Barred Owls remained silent the whole time this family was standing in front of their cage, but as soon as the pesky humans had moved on (to antagonize the Screech Owls on the far side of the building, no doubt) the two of them started up a loud and impressive racket. The man and his children immediately hightailed it back to the Barred Owl cage… at which point they immediately fell silent again. Ha!
At the moment the pair of Red-tailed Hawks are working on the nest they’re attempting to build on the platform in their cage. It’s a noble effort, really.