Well, I guess I kind of gave it away with the title of this post!!! LOL
I went into the barn at about 5:30 pm tonite, to feed and close up the barn for the night. It gets dark early now, so if I don’t feed before 5pm, we are working in the dark!
I was almost done, having mucked the stalls, fed, put out the hay, and climbed up in the loft to toss down more bales.
When I went over to ‘the big guy’s” stall to lock the door, I happened to glance up, and saw something on the ledge next to the stall door. At first I wasn’t sure what it was, since I didn’t have my glasses on. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be a chinchilla – which was highly unlikely!!! LOL
Then, I realized it was a tiny owl!!! Not moving, just calmly staring at me! I pointed him out to my husband and ran back to the house for my camera.
Fortunately, the little guy was still there when I came back. He was undisturbed by the past half hour’s goings on, and by the interior light being turned on. He sat very still for his photo, barely blinking. He was about 8-9 inches tall, looking as soft as a chinchilla, mottled grey, with ear tufts. I am not too familiar with the different owls – and at first thought of a saw whet owl.
I said goodnight to the horses and the little owl, and closed the barn doors. The doors had been open all day – and I assume that’s how he got in. The stall doors stay open all night, so I am hoping he can find his way out thru them. Unless, of course, he is staying to feast on barn mice all night- which would be fine with me!!!
When back in the house, I got out the old Peterson Field guide to research the little guy.
Turns out he is a common screech owl – they have 2 color phases – grey and brown. My brief research did not indicate they would frequent the inside of barns, but there he was. The saw whet owl, does not have ear tufts, and is even tinier! This little screech owl was about 8 or 9 inches tall.
I know we do have a great horned owl or two, in the trees near the river – they are the ones I hear at night. Apparently these larger ones will prey on the smaller ones like this little guy.
Of course, now I will worry about him all night, and hope he is just hanging out and can find his way in and out of the barn!!!!
Here is a link about the diminutive screech owl, with descriptions and the different calls they make. I know now that I have heard them around – just never was sure whoooo or what was making that sound!!
All is well, with a hint of snow in the air, and a never ending source of new discoveries, at Mountain Meadows tonite…………………