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Field Notes: Owl Calls on Winter Nights

Winter nights may seem cold and biting, but amidst the snow and wind, owls are out and about hunting and even nesting. An evening walk down a quiet street or your backyard is a great way to catch a few hoots or a toot. Great-horned owls, our largest breeding owl in Connecticut, are one of the earliest birds to nest. You may hear them gently calling their very deep, “Who’s awake, I am, are you?” Barred owls are not far behind with nesting, and their territoriality often results in a cacophony of caterwauling; listen for the familiar “who cooks for you, who cooks for you alllll.” Our smallest owl in Connecticut, the adorable and intriguing northern saw-whet owl often winters in our area, but many will make their way north again in March. Their eerie and abundant repertoire of sounds can be puzzling, but their soft, repeated “toot” can be heard now through their migration. Listen to these recordings of northern saw-whet owls, and try to listen for them one evening.