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“whoo, whoo-hoo, whooo, whooo”

by | Jan 18, 2014

Any of you speak that language? Well, it is Great Horned Owl love talk! The reply “whoo, whoo-hoo, whoo-oo, whoo-oo” seals the deal. This courting duet can be heard on our farm in the wee hours before sunrise, when—well, the normal folks are still sleeping…

I’d been hearing the familiar hooting of owls when I let Babs out around 5 am –but little did I know what was really going on! That was until yesterday when I took a peek in our scope to see if the raptor nesting site was holding up through the winter wind. I focused the scope, rubbed my eyes, blink, blink—what is that in the nest? A big stick? Oh wait, it moved, blink-blink-blink— leaping lizards, there is a huge owl in the nest!  Ever so slowly her head rotates, we lock eyes (from 1000 feet). Not sure about her, but it was love at first sight for me.

Michael J. Hopiak, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Michael J. Hopiak, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Interesting tidbits about these guys:

  • When they catch more than they can eat—they store it for later. They are known to sit on frozen food to defrost it!!
  • Their ears are covered in tufts of soft feathers to keep their ears warm.
  • Oldest recorded age of a Great Horned Owl is 28 years old in Ohio.


I am not sure how I am going to get any work done now. Good thing I write at my desk in the house and the scope is in my office—because it is sooooo hard to step away from the scope!

Facebook now has  competition—nest watching! I will do my best to post on our Facebook page what I see each day. There are some great links on our page that have information about these guys.

Hoot, hoot!


P.S. We are going to need baby names in the near future!


Lisa Mason Ziegler is a commercial cut-flower farmer in Newport News, Virginia; she lectures and writes about organic and sustainable gardening. You can email Lisa at [email protected] , call her at 757-877-7159 or visit her website .

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