I love it when I unexpectantly pick up a new bird species for the year. Late last night a Great Horned Owl began hooting right outside my bedroom window around 1;30 AM. I listened for awhile and then got out of bed, got dressed and went outside in hopes of actually seeing it. Not surprisingly, as soon as I exited the house, the owl fell silent. I wasn't surprised. Let's face it, there is no such thing as sneaking up on an owl at night. After all, If they can detect a mouse scampering beneath mats of old grass in a field, then I'm sure that my 200+ pound body walking in boots poses no challenge to their superior hearing and eyesight.
Of course as soon as I went back inside, the owl began hooting again. Hooo Hooo Hooo Hooooooo Hooooooo went the owl for hour after hour. Actually, it was four hours to be exact. And at one point, a second Great Horned Owl joined in as the pair performed a duet. This is presumably a mated pair that will be incubating eggs within a matter of weeks. They are one of the earliest nesting birds in West Virginia.
Even though I didn't get to see either owl, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen in on their magical nighttime performance.