We've been house-sitting for my mother a lot over the last 6 months, and so our cats have been over there almost full time... In the meantime, some rats have noticed our chicken feed and lack of resident predators, and decided the woodpile near the coop is a great place to build a burrow. Ugh. After I found a rat dropping in my basement, I decided it was time to take serious action. Three nights later, still waiting for my awesome rat zapper trap to arrive from amazon, found me sitting on my porch watching the wood pile with an air rifle in hand. Of course, NOW the little vermin decide to be shy. Every other day they've been quite brave in the early evening, at least enough so we've seen one or two each day... Or wait. Are they shy? Or is something else picking them off?
Behold, the eastern screech owl. I knew they were around because I see and hear them a couple times every year. I even found a red morph last winter frozen in the snow on the dirt road by my house -- a hit-and-run victim.
So last night there I am on the porch when something light swoops down in front of me at lightning speed and grabs something from near the wood-pile. A minute later, and more times throughout the evening, I heard this noise in the pine above the woodpile:
Why yes, that is a screech owl song, one of it's lesser known sounds. Eerie and beautiful.
And hooray -- they do hunt rats, even though they're practically the same size! Oh, I am so happy to have you as my neighbor, Mr & Mrs Screech Owl. Feel free to invite some of your friends over to dinner anytime ;)