Evening visitors to the Sutro Forest have long known that Great Horned Owls live or visit there. They’re specially easy to hear, with soft resonant hoots.
Last night, it was a Barn Owl, which is less easy to see. This account is republished with permission from ForestKnolls.info, a website/ blog for the neighborhood just south of Sutro Forest.
I was driving west along Clarendon Avenue, heading homeward. As I slid into the turn lane to make a right on Christopher, something white lay on the side of the road. I slowed nearly to a stop, unsure what it was. Then I recognized it as a barn owl, wings spread. My fear was that it might be injured, perhaps from hitting a car.
To my relief, it rose into the air and disappeared into the trees of Sutro Forest, a rodent clutched in the talons of its right foot. It must have just caught it. I breathed a sigh of relief.
But I was in even more luck! As I turned right, it sailed out of the forest ahead of me, looped over Christopher Dr, and flew back to a tree beside the street. Then it took off again, but only went a little deeper into the forest.
The last time I saw a barn owl in Forest Knolls was seven years ago: Evening Walk with Owl and Moon
Later, I went back. The owl was there, but difficult to see in the darkness. I heard rustling sounds that suggested it was eating the rodent it had caught. I tried getting photographs, but both my phone and camera rebelled at the darkness. This picture is an edited public domain photograph.
So if you hear hisses, screeches, and rasping noises from the forest – or around our neighborhood – it’s barn owls on rodent patrol. (Also, please don’t use rodenticides, especially slow-acting ones like brodifacoum. It could kill the owl.)