We went after a Barn Owl on Wednesday. We had a set of directions to a location in McAllen where Barn Owls were said to be. It turned out to be a very residential area and seemed an unlikely spot for Barn Owls. We approached a couple of people that we saw in the area and asked them if they had heard of any owls in the neighborhood. Both said they had and one fellow pointed out a group of palm trees (Petticoat Palms) where the sounds seemed to be coming from. So we trundled off down this alleyway toward the palm trees. On one side of the alley, each of the gated yards had a barking dog (there are lots of dogs in Texas). The other side of the alley seemed to be free of dogs. We stood under the palm trees for a while. Eventually a woman and her two children came out and approached us. We explained what we were up to. She said that earlier in the week another couple were there doing the same thing. She confirmed that we were in the right location. All during the month of January she would see and hear the “white” (her word) owls. The screeching, rasping sounds of these owls got so bad, that she had to sleep with Kleenex stuffed in her ears. She said they had lived there for four years and every December and January the owls come to stay in the palm trees. Unfortunately, they have not heard or seen them for the past couple of weeks. We stuck around for a while, but we did not see or hear them either.
Barn Owls are found throughout Texas. In one book, it says they are the most commonly seen owl. I have a hard time with that statement. In talking to birders, it seems that most have seen Great Horned, Screech-Owls and even Short-ears. But not many have seen Barn Owls; or if they have, the frequency of their Barn Owl sightings is decidedly less.
Click on this link to watch an episode of NATURE on PBS all about the Barn Owl. This is an amazing show. The cinematography is wonderful. You will come away from this very informative show feeling truly blessed.