Hedgebrook Vocals

By Nancy Bardue

Categories: Garden & Grounds, General,

At Hedgebrook, when you hear “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all…” the call is not coming from the Farmhouse kitchen but from the depths of the forest. Our vocal – often loud mouthed – resident Barred Owls are making all the racket. Indeed, most alums can attest to waking up in the middle of the night from “noises like I have never heard before” or “a sound that scared the sh*t out of me”! It’s really fun when writers come to the office and verbally try to imitate the call, “No, no it was more like a hooooaahh, hooooaahh!” I love that they are also called Le Chat-huant du Nord (french for The Hooting Cat of the North).

Last week we had a close encounter.  While Hedgebrook was hosting some guests from Seattle, our Facilities Manager, Billy Pape, alerted me that an owl was perched very close to Hedgebrook headquarters. Well, I can’t sit still when there are ANY birds around, so I jumped up and ran out of the office. After having a quick look, I went back and grabbed my binoculars (doesn’t everyone have a pair of binos at their desk?) so I could get a positive identification of the owl. By then the word was out and all of the staff, along with one of our guests, were headed up to the parking lot to see what all the brouhaha was about.

We have many bird species at Hedgebrook, but this was particularly exciting because owls are mainly nocturnal and daytime sightings are rare. Barreds are big – about 18 inches in length with large, dark and round eyes—very impressive; they look like a brown and white striped snowman. It was a beautiful day with the leaves just starting to turn colors and as a birder, one of those rare opportunities where the prey—and I mean that in the nicest way —sits for a long time, in full view, with terrific light. But the greatest pleasure of the day was seeing the face of our guest who has never seen a wild owl before. As tears were welling up in her eyes, anyone could see she was overwhelmed with the encounter and probably, just a little changed because of it.

But, shucks, we do that all the time here at Hedgebrook.

Here’s a great video to hear the call and see a Barred Owl.

 

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