An unexpected encounter with an evening caller |

An unexpected encounter with an evening caller

by Amy Roby
A family of five owls spent a morning in 2009, in the trees in front of Douglas High School.
Shannon Litz/R-C File Photo

During a recent early evening walk, I took the opportunity to phone a friend I hadn’t spoken with in some time. It was just after dark, and the chill put a solid spring in my step as my dog and I made our way along one of our numerous neighborhood routes.

As we passed beneath a streetlight, I was stopped mid-sentence by the unmistakable hoo-h-Hoo-hoo-hoo of a Great Horned Owl.

The hooting was so close it made me jump. I reflexively looked straight up to try to catch a glimpse of this evening caller, but the light’s glare flooded my vision and made it impossible to see. I assumed the owl was flying somewhere overhead and I stepped left and right in a vain attempt to try to spot it. The owl must have instead been perched on top of the streetlight because after a moment, it reacted to all my clumsy shuffling by squawking at me. Just like a chicken.

Now, I occasionally have the good fortune to hear an owl during an evening stroll. Every once in a while, I actually get to see one. Never before have I noticed one on top of a streetlight, and never before have I heard one squawk.

The owl’s sharp call was received as a reprimand; it rang my warning bells and was enough for me to give up the search and continue on my way. Several times I looked back toward the streetlight, but I never did see that owl.

I couldn’t find much information about this particular vocalization, though I did come across several sources that referenced a squawk as an owl’s response to a threat. Owls are territorial raptors and wintertime is their mating season, so it makes sense that my close proximity wasn’t welcomed.

For me, the encounter was an exhilarating surprise, though I was happy to take heed and give the owl its space.

Tahoe/Douglas Elks’ Dine and Dash Date Night returns

The Tahoe/Douglas Elks resume their “Dine and Dash Date Night for Two” with a fish fry on Friday, Jan. 8.

For a $25 donation, each meal provides two servings and includes fried fish, shrimp, fries or onion rings, and coleslaw. Meals are prepared by Tahoe/Douglas Elks members and are offered for curbside pick up at the lodge between 5-7 p.m.

Reservations must be made by 4:30 p.m. the day prior to the event; call 775-265-5483 by this afternoon if you’d like to order a meal for tomorrow night. Leave your name, number of orders, preference for fries or onion rings, and pickup time you prefer. If you want confirmation of your order, include that request along with your number and someone will get back to you.

The next “Dine and Dash Date Night for Two” is scheduled for Jan. 22 and features a menu of barbecue chicken, Santa Maria-style beans, and potato salad.

The Tahoe/Douglas Elks Lodge is located at 1227 Kimmerling Road in the Gardnerville Ranchos. Proceeds from Tahoe/Douglas Elks’ events support organizations and causes for veterans, seniors, and youth in our local community.

Amy Roby can be reached at