I heard the other day that there are too many skunks in the Chicago area.
In the 6 years I've been living along the edge of a wooded ravine, I've never seen one. You would think I live in the perfect setting for them; heavy woods, leads down to a ravine which leads down to the Fox River. You would think every now and then I would smell one.
Not a sight or a smell.
What we do have in the neighborhood are great horned owls. I can tell by their hooting that there's at least 3 different ones. I can do the sound pretty well and now and then I'll bring one into the trees in front of my house to check me out. Sometimes one or two will hang out in the trees, their eery hoot echoing through the neighborhood.
I'm also always in the woods, hunting or fishing. All up and down the Fox River I've never seen a skunk. The same goes for all the other places I've gone.
The one common denominator is that I always hear great horned owls every where I go.
What I didn't know is that these owls like to eat skunks.
It doesn't bother them to eat skunks because they have no sense of smell.
I didn't know any of that.
It does explain something that happened a few years ago. My cat was lounging on the patio table in the shade of it's big umbrella. A great horned owl swooped down to within a foot of the cat, flying between it and the umbrella.
My cat is black.
I always thought it was odd that the owl did that. Now I know why.
Whenever I hear an owl I repeat what I hear. I didn't know it was a territorial hoot that I was repeating. That would explain why they always come check me out. I'm an intruder.
Years ago I was out on the river at 4 AM to fish during a full moon. On the opposite shore was a great horned owl hooting away, so I started talking to it. I assumed it got bored with me when it didn't respond for awhile.
Before heading out into the water I had to take care of business on the shore. Waders down around my ankles, squatting, and directly over my head the owl hoots. I jumped straight up, not a good thing to do at that moment. Every hair on my body stood on end, yes, even there. I was covered head to toes in goose bumps.
I have no clue how that thing found me in the dark and perched directly over my head.
You can bet I take care of business now BEFORE talking to the owls.
In order to do this sound I have to go very low down into my throat. Too many times and it really starts to hurt.
I love this sound though and it's worth the hurt.
The other owl I've been hearing a lot are the barred owls. I can do this sound too. They seem to keep their distance and never come looking for me. Though I hear them a lot, I don't recall ever seeing one up close.
This does explain why we never see opossums, few rabbits and there are just very few pests around here.
Except for squirrels. We have a lot of squirrels. Supposedly both of these owls will eat squirrels.
I have a feeling the squirrels gang up on them when they try.