I love the sound of the barred owl. It’s the sound most people refer to “Who Cooks for You”, “Who Cooks for You All”. We have a couple of barred owls living behind our home outside of Grand Marais. February and March are breeding time for barred owls so they become very active. When we pulled into our home Friday night one was calling from a patch of balsams on the ridge not far from the house. Even though it was so dark you could only make out shadows I followed his sound to see if I could spot his perch.
I got about 50 yards from him and listened for his next call. Behind me a couple of coyotes howled from maybe a half mile away. The neighbor’s dogs started to bark in response. It was very quiet and I could hear every sound. I looked at the tree I thought the owl was in and all of a sudden a wolf howled right in front of me!!! He couldn’t have been more that a hundred yards away. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I thought, this guy is right in front of me and I don’t even have a flashlight. I decided to head back to the house. Karla asked why I retreated “wolves don’t attack people”. I said “I know, but I didn’t want to be the first”.
The next morning I went back to see how close the tracks were to mine. Three sets of coyote tracks were about 100 yards from where I stopped. Two sets of timber wolf tracks came right up to where I stood listening to the owl the night before. They crossed my tracks in two places. The wolf tracks were large enough that I could put my fist within the track. If I would have stood my ground the night before I probably could have seen their shadows moving through the birch.
On Saturday and Sunday both barred owls returned. I followed the sounds and located both owls. It was light enough that I was able to get some photos. Each time the mate would call, the one I was photographing would quickly turn in the direction of the sound. He was much more interested in his mate than he was in me.