Is there a nature center near you? If so, see if they have night hikes to go prowling for owls. If not, head out with family and friends and follow these owl-prowl tips.
Check out our owl article or a bird field guide to find out which owls live in your area, where to look for them, and how they sound. Also check out online guides.
Give a Hoot
Try imitating the call of an owl that lives in your area. If you’re good at it, the bird just might call back to you.
In the evening, listen for owls hooting, tooting, whistling, or trilling. Late winter and early spring are usually the best times to hear owls calling for mates.
Return during the day to places where you heard owls calling. Look for “whitewash,” which is spatters of owl poop on the trunk and limbs of trees the birds rest in. Look on the ground under branches, too. Also look for owl pellets. Those are clumps that owls cough up after a meal. They contain parts of prey that owls can’t digest, such as bones and fur. If you find any of these signs, look up. There might be an owl tucked next to the trunk or perched on a limb.
Keep track of trees in the area that have stick nests in them. They’re easier to see before leaves start coming out in spring. Go back to those trees in late spring to see if an owl mom is using any of them. Take binoculars so you don’t have to get so close that you disturb her.
Keep owl-prowling notes in a field journal. Sketch a map of any owl hot spot you find and keep track of what you discover there over time. Use your field notes again next year to see if owls start a new family in the same area.
FIND OUT MORE
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Watch William investigate owl pellets discovered in his family’s barn.