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A friend is back

November 13, 2016
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

I was thinking about all the things that I still needed to be doing at my house before winter. The deck furniture needs stored away and all the things that should be sorted in the garage before winter. And where was I? In the treestand, of course.

I guess what started me thinking that way was the fact that there were all sorts of animals around me getting ready for winter. The fox squirrels were about as active as they could be that afternoon. One inquisitive youngster came down the tree that I was in to check me out but that story will be for another day.

The hawks were flying overhead. Each one making large circles in the sky. Each circle slowly taking them a little farther south on their migration route. Yet seemingly in no real hurry to get that job done. But should the weather have taken a nasty turn, the trip could quickly become a scramble to beat it south as soon as possible. Like my last minute winter jobs could turn to a scramble (and have in past years).

So, I had been daydreaming about all that I had to do. And then the surprise! It was nearing dark. Another evening's hunt would soon end. I guess that I was so deep in thought about those jobs that I had left to do that I didn't pay close attention to an owl that called in the distance. It wasn't until the second round of hoots that it hit me. That was a barred owl! Why was I excited by that sound? It is a call that I haven't heard in my woods for years!

Barred owl calls were a familiar sound in my woods years ago, but then they stopped. They disappeared. The timing was with the West Nile virus. When we were talking about that showing up in Iowa, my barred owls disappeared. I could never say that it was the virus but if not, a huge coincidence.

That's why I was so excited to hear it. I hadn't heard one for a dozen years or more. The great horn owls were residents now and I thought it would be the case from here on out.

I listened to the call several more times before it ceased. It was now dark and I climbed down and headed for the car, but you can bet that every time out for the remainder of the fall, I'll be watching for barred owls as well as deer.



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