At 2 am, I was jolted out of sleep by a noise. As I tried to wake up and focus, I noticed that FM had also woken up and was starting to get up. Play both of these audio clips at the same time to hear what we heard.[audio http://www.learner.org/jnorth/sounds/Owl_Barred_Baby.mp3] [audio http://www.learner.org/jnorth/sounds/Owl_Barred_Monkey.mp3]
My initial thought was that there a coyote howling, but soon enough we realized that the sound was coming from the roof, right above our bedroom. FM thought that it was a peacock – since he had seen one on his bike commute earlier in the week. As we cleared the fog of sleep away, our guesses became less crazy.
The sound was irregular, with a minute or so passing between calls. We went out onto the small balcony and tried to crane our necks to see what was perched above us. Our movement disturbed it and then we saw two shapes fly over to the trees on our pond island. At that point we could see that there were two owls watching us. They continued calling but we were unable to identify them with the distance and the dark. Neither of us had ever heard the sounds before.
The next morning, I did a little research to try to figure out which owl it could have been. The Owl Pages is a great website, complete with multiple sound bites of each species. The clip at the top is exactly what we heard – an adult and a juvenile barred owl, calling together. In the dark and being sleepy, I thought that the sound was one animal.