I have a lovely simple memory of talking a walk with my dad near Saugerties, New York. My parents and sister brought up our ferociously sweet pit bull, who had bone cancer and a poor prognosis, so that I could see him again. His tiny beagle buddy tagged along. We decided to take them for a walk in a tiny patch of woods near a neighborhood. A few minutes in, Dad spotted a woodpecker hole in a trunk and we heard a chorus of cheeping woodpecker baby birds, just slightly above eye level. I still remember Dad’s surprised joyous smile. The dogs had a great time snuffling about and didn’t even notice when two barred owls flapped around the trees, landing on nearby branches and staring down the awed humans before deciding to take one of the numerous exits available to them.
The second time I saw a barred owl, I was at a national wildlife refuge around dusk looking for bald eagles with my boyfriend. Everything was kind of dull and dreary for that winter walk – as opposed to the first time, when the forest was fairly bursting with fertility. I don’t remember where specifically we saw the owl go past, but I remember my giddy boyfriend doing a quiet stealthy power walk so that he could get a better look with the binoculars. People kept asking us if we had seen the bald eagle and he was like “Even Better! We saw an Owl!”
I still haven’t heard a barn owl call in real life, but those are 2 of my favorite birding memories.