Owl Spotting In Winter

Story and photos by Michael and Michelle Mykowski

During the winter months fewer people venture outside to explore the forests. The beautiful flowers and foliage are gone, songbirds have migrated, and many of the animals are less active. It seems as if the woods are empty. What many people don't realize is that this season opens up a whole new opportunity for the nature lover. Since the canopy of leaves is gone, there is visibility for spotting owls.

With a little research and a lot of looking you can greatly improve your chances of seeing an owl.The first thing you need to do is read about them and learn about the many different varieties in our area. New Jersey hosts eight different species of owls. Because the state is in the migratory flight zone, some owls only spend the winter here, while others are year round residents. The most common types in the northern parts of the state are the Screech, Great Horned and Barred. Understanding each owl's specific habitat is key in knowing where to look.

Screech Owl, photo by Dan Bacon

Screech owls are probably the most visible in our area. They are widespread throughout the state, residing in farmlands, old orchards, deciduous woods and suburban areas. There are two different color forms of this species, red and gray. Each color phase is independent of sex or age. They can often be seen in natural cavities in trees, old woodpecker holes, and duck boxes where they roost or nest.

The Great Horned shares a similar habitat with that of the Screech. They are remarkably adaptable, residing almost everywhere from the deep forests to the suburbs. Although this owl is large and abundant, it is still often difficult to spot. However, there are clues to help locate them. For example, look for whitewash, which is dried, whitish excrement on the branches and trunks of trees. Another thing to look for are pellets: small cigar-shaped clumps containing fur and small bones, things that an owl cannot digest and so are regurgitated. These can often be found at the base of trees, which is a good sign that an owl frequents the area. The easiest way to spot a Great Horned is to witness something called mobbing. This is when birds, like crows or bluejays, harass an owl by diving at it while calling loudly and trying to force it to leave the area. Looking in the general direction of the commotion will possibly lead you to the owl.

Great Horned Owl, Mountain Lakes

Vilma, a barred owl found by the side of the road when she was a year old, had a compound fracture of the left wing has no sustainable flight. She resides at The Raptor Trust in Millington.

Barred owls prefer thick, swampy woodlands, such as the Great Swamp, and are one of the most vocal owls. During the mating season, in March, it is not uncommon to hear them calling in the middle of the day. The distinct eight-hoot call can lead you to their location. Look for abandoned nests of crows or hawks, and cavities in large trees. The owls may be nesting or roosting in those locations. Also, larger owls such as the Barred and Great Horned can sometimes be spotted by their silhouette.

Once you locate an owl there are a few things to remember. Be careful not to disturb it. Limit the length of time and amount of visits and enjoy the owl from a distance by using binoculars, a spotting scope or a camera. Remember, even though it's cold outside and the woodland areas seem barren, there is still plenty of potential for viewing wildlife.

A few good books to read are New Jersey's Owls by Len Soucy (The Raptor Trust), How To Spot An Owl, by Clay and Patricia Sutton; Owls, Their Life and Behavior, by Julio de la Torre; and Bird Behavior, Volume 3, by Donald and Lillian Stokes.
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31 Jul 2015, 08:15
I recently saw a northern saw whet owl living in my neighbors top window. It is really small and cute, but our neighbor is keeping it as a pet. Is that allowed?
14 Jan 2015, 23:03
It is a cold winter in January and I am wokem up by a low muffled voice as if someone was talking low into a cellphone. After some time, the sound was persistent and I got up to look out my window. It was a wonderful night for star gazing. Twinkle twinkle little star and I realized an owl was making the fuss, hooting. I look around and cannot see any owl. The trees in the distance are bare, still I saw nothing there. Then all at once a great surge of energy flew out of the tree and into the night air. Soaring away, the owl's wings were an angelic sight. A beautiful figure soaring high cfeating such an intense moment. The hooting was over and I turn away from the window feelings metaphysical.
31 Oct 2014, 14:18
Great article for teaching with paired passages.
Chris Soucy
15 Apr 2014, 06:39
Hello owl fans! Here are few resources for you.
First, many groups organize owl watching trips (often called "Owl Prowls"). Check with NJ Audubon, The Raptor Trust or any other local birding organization for scheduling.
Second, you may be able to attract owls to your neighborhood (or even your yard) by placing owl nesting boxes on your property. The Raptor Trust has plans for boxes for several different species of owls on its website at www.TheRaptorTrust.org.
Happy Owling!
14 Apr 2014, 06:41
I have a large horse barn and I would like to attract an owl to protect it from mice, rats snakes etc. what can I build that would entice a barn owl ?
A Perlow
11 Mar 2014, 20:30
I need some information about owl habitat. Can someone from njskyla please contact me.Thanks.
Sharon McIntyre
05 Jun 2013, 07:37
Are there any owls near Hillside,NJ or Newark?
Stephen Matthews
19 May 2013, 15:32
I live near Hartshorne Woods, in Monmouth County and for the last 2 years (or so) I've had the pleasure to hear and see a barred owl. I have photos of the owl taken about 5 separate occasions from around the house. The most recent was May 16th, 2013, at 5:45. My son was washing his car in the driveway and the owl flew to a tree along the driveway and watched him wash the car for about 10 minutes. My son took photos and a video. The video is posted on youtube. (not sure what the video is named) The County Park System Naturalist has seen the owl and taken photos. I am very fortunate.
Deb Ross
14 Apr 2013, 06:28
I will be moving to a wooded area in Freehold, NJ andi am told there is an owl preserve behind my new home. Is there any way to confirm this and can you give me advice on safety precautions for the owls, my family and my pets?
28 Jan 2013, 14:46
Are snowy owls common in NJ? I believe I observed on in West Milford yesterday.
Todd H.
26 Nov 2012, 23:58
I live in Washington Twp. Gloucester County N.J. I currently have three owls living on my property. not sure what type yet. I spotted one of them at nitetime with a flashlight by his/her eyes lighting up. I have gotten about 30 feet from it. It lives in a hollowed out tree about 25 feet up. my question is now that I spotted him/her will it leave it's home?
daniel donnelly
18 Mar 2012, 11:21
Hey guys i have a barn owl in my neighborhood i have never really seen him but my brother has seen the barn owl. Just wanted to share this with you guys \r\n\r\nh\r\no\r\no\r\nt\r\n\r\no\r\nn\r\n!\r\n!
20 Feb 2012, 07:28
My girlfriend lives in Riverton, NJ and hears the low hoot of an owl most mornings around 2am. What species of owl live in that area?
19 Dec 2011, 17:08
I live in Mendham and was pulling out of my driveway around 7PM when I noticed a small furry animal in the road by the curb - realized it was an owl. The owl then flew up into a tree and as I pulled forward I managed to catch it in my headlights. Pretty sure it was a saw-whet, very small.\r\nI have also seen a great horned owl while driving through the great swamp around dusk.\r\nhttp://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatswamp/\r\nCool place for walking, biking and viewing wildlife.
joe v
01 Oct 2011, 07:29
Hi;I live on long beach island , ocean co. nj does anyone have any ideas were i can go to look for owls in this area?\r\nthanks\r\njoe
Anna Marie
03 Aug 2011, 05:15
This past week I have noticed something very large walking around our backyard and then flying up to perch every nite at dusk. I finally figured out it was an owl. The wingspan is very large. It hobbles around very fast and then flies away. Since it is rather dark and not too close I am still not sure what kind it could be. I live in East Amwell, Hunterdon County below the Sourland Mts. I am so interested in Owls now after reading up on them and might have found a new hobby.
Rose Benson
23 Jun 2011, 19:45
I live in Long Valley on Schooley's Mtn in Morris Cty, NJ. and last night I heard an owl calling that I can't identify. Called: 'Whoooooo'.\r\n\r\nAnother responded but was a No Barred (?) - 'Who, who whooooooo'.\r\n\r\nDoes anyone know who calls only 'whoooooo' and not really lengthy?\r\nIt did not have the deep voice or repetition of a great horned.\r\n\r\nThanks,\r\nRose
Phightin Phil
05 Jun 2011, 04:04
Scotch Plains - \r\n\r\nI spotted three owls (screech?) this morning perched in a tree in the backyard. Two grey and and a red. I was stunned to spot just one, but then noticed the other two close by. I have heard their "call" for years. Now I know what it is.
04 Jun 2011, 22:34
Hello,\r\n\r\nCame across your site while doing a google search for NJ Owls. I live in Nutley(essex county)and this evening right as the sun went down I suddenly saw 4 Baby Owls sitting on top of my golf net! Ive lived here for 25 years and have never seen an owl! They were cute fellas and were hooting and also making a weird clicking cackle sound! I told my mom and apparently they have been showing up around sun down for the past few weeks..Was curious if anyone new what type of owls they may be?
27 May 2011, 07:20
Ridgewood...\r\nYesterday on my afternoon dog walk my daughter pointed out a big dead bird in a neighbor's yard. I went over to see what it was and the head raised with big bight yellow eyes...an owl. Clearly it was injured but could move its head...so after a quick call to Wild Bord Emporium on Rt. 17, and on their suggestion a call to Dee, a woman who knows how handle bird emergencies, I gently bundled the beautiful owl up in a towel ...protecting myself from his sharp and long talons and placed him in a cat carrier. A quick trip to the wonderful people at Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital where he was recieved, details taken and transported to the Raptor Trust in Millington. I am waiting to hear about his status, fingers crossed. We hear owls almost every night, I have to believe this is an adolecent sho maight have tangled with one of our many hawks. I think he (or she) is a great horned owl but I am lerning about owls as I await news.\r\nTwo great new Jersey resources to remember and support: Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital and the Raptor Trust.
05 May 2011, 19:19
We have a family of owls. Heard them a few months ago but only just located the babies a couple of weeks now. Such a surprise to see how big they are and have taken several pictures. Do the parents leave them at some point to fend for themselves?
23 Apr 2011, 12:49
Theres a small, 10" high owl in my garage. Chased him out earlier today, but he's back. I tried showing him out, but he wont go. Any ideas?
14 Apr 2011, 20:33
It's 11:29pm and I was just outside my house in Ridgewood and heard this loud hooting about 4-5 times and it must have been close cause it was loud. Around my street lives a big red tailed hawk and a perrigrine falcon that I see every now and then and now a loud owl. Very cool.
03 Mar 2011, 10:38
Mark - Springfield.. is the owl still around? I'd love to take a photo of it!\r\nI'm at Petco on weekends (Watchung) w/SARA Rescue. Let me know. Tks
Deb Thomas
26 Feb 2011, 12:18
Hello, I totally agree, it's so exciting to see wildlife around our homes, I'm moving to Alaska because I want more of that. But I just wanted to tell you, please keep an eye on your small pets- cats and dogs, a great horned owl picked my cat up right out in my front yard. They will eat anything they can carry off.I don't want you to go through this.\r\nDeb
30 Jan 2011, 17:23
Found decapitated rabbit on my doorstep in Freehold, NJ. While disposing of it and wondering which neighborhood dog was the culprit, I heard a deep hoo...hoo call. On my roof was a huge great horned owl! Really cool. Impressive animal, even though it was dark and I couldn't see it well. He or she stayed stayed for a while, flying away and returning. Must've been trying to find the meal I just tossed in the garbage. First owl I've seen in the area. I'll keep my ears and eyes open in case I get a return visit.
29 Jan 2011, 20:40
My beloved was out side at 10:57 tonight removing fresh snow from our cars and he heard such distant owl sounds that were so loud he thought they must be aliens making believe that they were owls. I came out and I heard them too, and we were relieved to discover on this site that there are owls in Wyckoff at this time of the year.
Eugene Moore
18 Jan 2011, 22:03
I live in Pottersville, Hunterdon County NJ. I took my dog out for a walk on 1/18/10 and noticed a owl-shaped silhouette in a dogwood tree very near the front corner of the house. At first I thought it was a big leaf that was stuck in the tree and then I saw it move slightly. I came in and turned on an outside light for a better view. It was a small owl with white around the eyes and white underneath. Did not appear to have ears. Checked my bird book and I think it was northern saw-whet owl. This owl was only about 4 feet from house and was not bothered when I walked almost underneath it.
William Scarangello
17 Jan 2011, 14:20
My wife spotted a large bird perched in the back yard just before dusk. I went out and got a picture of what looks like a Horded Owl. As I got closer it flow away. It had at least a six foot wing span.
15 Jan 2011, 16:10
Hi Guys and Gals,I have been a park ranger for Monmouth County for 24 years.I am a avid nature photographer going insane for Owl photos .I live in the western section of the county and have been able to get some photos of red and gray screech owls but in search of any owl. PLEASE let me know if you guys spot anything and are willing to let me photograph them.\r\n\r\nParkRangerKelly@aol.com
30 Dec 2010, 03:32
I heard a lone Great Horned Owl tonight, hooting his plaintive song to anyone willing to listen. Perhaps this fellow is a straggler hoping to find a last-minute mate. I decided to devote a column about owls (Suburban Trends is the paper I write for) and did some research on their habits and behaviors. Even though I am a long-time birding enthusiast, I learned quite a bit about these fascinating creatures. Anyone who wants to see them up close should visit the Raptor Trust in Millington, where injured birds are nursed back to health or allowed to live out their days in a safe, natural environment.
22 Dec 2010, 04:53
I took my dog out in my backyard early this morning and heard an owl. I kept looking in the trees around me, but then I saw it's shadow fly out of my neighbor's backyard over the lake. I really wish I could have seen it. I have never seen an owl in the wild.
19 Dec 2010, 09:54
Hey everybody, \r\nmy family and I live in Paramus and we just saw an owl sitting, in the middle of the day, in our backyard. We're trying to figure out what kind it is. It has rusty oragish red tail feathers. So cool! \r\n
13 Dec 2010, 21:00
Hello, I was walking my french bulldog last night around 8pm through the Hudson St. park in Hoboken NJ on Hudson and 5th St. I saw a flash above me that the streetlight had caught and lo and behold on a branch not 15 to 25 feet above us was a HUGE Horned Owl...this things wings had to span at least 6 feet....could hear it beat them as it perched. Stared at us for a minute or so then flew off to a higher branch in a larger adjacent tree-top. Is it a common occurrence to 'see' these Owls in such an Urban environment SO close to NYC and the Hudson River?? This thing was gigantic. It's underside, at least the feathers on the wings were white, white face, and rest brown, for the most part.
01 Nov 2010, 20:59
I live in a wooded area of Monmouth Co.I began hearing a hoo, hoo, hoooo, rythmic hoots two short one longer hoot about 3 nights ago. My 95 year old mom just died at home last week. Hmmmmm, she loved trees and birds--go mom. Anyhow, I think we have some visitors and we hope to keep them safe. Lots of little rodents around for them. Is there anything special we should be doing?
02 Oct 2010, 22:12
Here in Washington state. Two baby barred owls were living in my back yard. I watched and repeatedly video taped them for weeks before they fledged. I'd heard them last year also but didn't know what they were. Their weird screeching whistle is very unique--but now I know it's them. Recently an adult has calling all night long. Very loudly. For weeks. Last night I heard a very strange sound at the same time as the owl hooting. Not coyotes. A turkey-like gargle. Very strange. 2am. I was at my window peering into the darkness (with moonlight) hoping to see the owl fly. And suddenly mid hoot, it was silent. I have not heard the owl since. What could it have been? (P.S. The sound reminded me of the sound I heard years ago in Oregon while watching 2 porcupines mating.)
21 Jul 2010, 19:54
Mark Rodrick
13 Jul 2010, 17:45
We reside in springfield new jersey and we spotted an enormous owl, black and brown, approximately 3 foot wing span, great horned owl for sure, in our yard, we have green acres behind us, and a creek, lots of trees, beautiful to watch. he was nearly tangled in our soccer net, and quickly escaped. A truly beautiful bird to behold.
12 Jun 2010, 18:18
I have resided in south jersey for five years, I have heard the owls but never actually seen them. we are surrounded by woods. Much to my surprise last night there was one perched on top of the swing set I have in my yard. Surprise, surprise, \r\nI saw him again tonight. Maybe he will feast on the moles that are tearing up my yard. I was unable to see exactly what kind it was. Anyone have any ideas.
05 May 2010, 19:43
I live in Illinois, about 30 mins from Chicago.....I saw a HUGE Owl staring down at me....he had to have been at least 3-4 feet tall. I live in a town home and it would just stand on the building in front of mine and look in my window....i saw him like 3 nights in a row. It amazed me, i hope for it to come visit again every time i go to sleep no luck thoo
Bridgette Flynn
24 Apr 2010, 15:02
Is a 3 ft owl with a 6 ft wing span, one also having babies, as in one is already a foot tall, dangerous in the suburbs of the twin cities?\r\n\r\nIt's a common suburb, but my brother doesn't want onlookers going up and down his street and I understand. He thinks nature will take it's course. I do not. I did not know they came in colors so I did not ask, tho I'd love a picture.\r\n\r\nAll the rabbits and such are bones now, so I worry with these soon to be huge children being born, what will it go after for food next.\r\n\r\nTheir is a pond 3 blocks away, and tho some of the trees in the niegborhood are old, it's definietly the suburbs. Yes we have many lakes but I find this so rare!\r\nI wish it would come to my area and eat the geese that honk louder and crueler than dogs. I can't sleep they are so loud. But for now it is in this neighborhood six block from a big mall. \r\nWhat have we done to nature?\r\nBridge\r\nPs interesting comments thanks
k. mclaughlin
22 Apr 2010, 14:14
My husband spotted an enormous (looks like a barred owl)owl in a tall pine tree on the edge of a pond near our home. It looks like it's over 3 ft. long through binoculars. There is also a nest on another branch with a smaller owl in it. Scary-so big. This is nin Manasquan.
John Bogad
02 Apr 2010, 05:40
Lincoln Park New Jersey ....Saw an incredibly large mostly white..with some brown owl around dusk last night.It did not have visible ears. Amazing in flight.
10 Mar 2010, 00:00
I live in Scotch Plains. Tonight, I happened to be watching TV when I heard what, at first, I thought was a Mourning Dove. When I opened a window, however, I knew instantly it was an owl. And I could barely contain my excitement. \r\nNow, I realize owls may not be uncommon in New Jersey, but I had never seen one. Sadly, when I spotted it with a flash light it flew away. But it was a thrill to see nonetheless, and in flight was, well, a sight to behold.
09 Mar 2010, 20:19
I live it voorhees nj. And it is the beginning of march. There are from what it sounds like 2 owls hooting all night. They are loud. I can distinctly hear them with all windows shut. I opened swindle to listen and it sounds a block away. But it is so loud
Steve Elber
26 Jan 2010, 18:31
I saw a tiny owl (5-6 inches tall) standing on Valley Rd. in Upper Montclair on Sunday night (Jan. 24). I walked up to it because I thought it was injured or a baby that couldn't fly, but it turned to see me about 2 feet away from it and it took off ... clutching a mouse! Definitely an owl, but I have no idea what kind.
Emily Kim
12 Jan 2010, 09:07
We just saw a giant owl, not sure what kind, outside our home in Glen Ridge, NJ. It looked like it weighed 50 pounds. Any idea what kind it is and if this is unusual?
Arthur A
29 Nov 2009, 20:37
We live in Monmouth on 12 acres with some wet lands. My wife heard what she thought might be a Screech Owl a few weeks ago. We found a fairly large owl pellet outside my son's window and yesterday we saw the remenants of a Red Fox in our front lawn. Trying to figure out what ate the Fox and thinking it would be too large for a Screech Owl, I played recordings of both the Screech Owl and a Great Horned Owl. She said one of the screaming sounds of the GHO actually sounded like what she heard a few weeks ago. How common is it for GHO to eat a fox and how large must it be?
24 Nov 2009, 23:38
So about an hour ago I heard a hooo-hooo outside my bedroom coming towards the house then all of a sudden something large flew into the side of the house then I heard the hooo-hooo noise again like it was flying away from the house. Do you think this was an owl and would it have flew into the side of my house?
24 Sep 2009, 13:14
I thought owls where nocturnal so why is it that im seeing them during the day sitting on buildings and lampost everywhere I go...I have never seen one ever in my life up until about a month ago and now I see them everywhere...I live in springfield mo....any ideas....and no i dont do drugs so you can rule that out...
Jan Weiner
13 Jul 2009, 14:32
For the past few years I have had an owl visiting the tree in my backyard in the early morning hours. I would lie awake listening to his hoo HOOs for as long as he would call out. It was truly amazing, and I never got over my initial reaction, of feeling so blessed and so amazed at his/her presence. Then one day the home behind us was sold, and the 200 year old trees started coming down to allow for the literal paving over of their property for construction of a tennis court. Why do people move to the country? Public courts exist for a reason, as do owls, and I think they really shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence. When the trees started coming down, I tried everything to find a loophole to stop the deforestation. I hope for a miracle, that when these "summer residents" return to the city, my owl will return to my backyard.
lois williams
10 Jul 2009, 19:17
hello, im lois. we live in southern delaware.we have been hearing owls in our woods.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
07 Jul 2009, 08:16
Saw my first Grey Horned Owl in Garret Mountain Reservation, NJ yesterday. Heard a tree russle and some comotion with birds and this huge magnificant owl crossed the road, flying right above us.
Carolyn Harrison
09 Apr 2009, 22:02
I am a serious collector of owls, so you can only imagine how I felt on 4/9/09 when I went to let the dog out back and came face to face with a beautiful owl no less than 4 ft from me. A few days ago I thought I heard and saw a shadow of an owl, but dismissed the notion. I live in Passaic County across from the Passaic River. What was so beautiful, is that as I exited the back door the motion light came on and there sitting on my air conditioning unit facing me was this wonderful creature. Oh My God, how surreal was that!!!
06 Apr 2009, 01:41
I've had 3 encounters with owls. The first was years ago as I was hiking up the Delaware Water Gap. It was a cool,rainy,dismal early spring day when I saw a squirrel running across a fallen tree.All of a sudden a huge owl swooped down, grabbed that squirrel in it's talons,quickly turned and looked at me, then flew off. It was amazing to see! It was a very large owl & looked something like the one on the cigar box. Then this winter,while visiting my son, who lived in Iselin,near a wooded area, I put a bag of garbage on the porch. 10 mins. later, I came out,and here comes a big owl,flying right toward the garbage bag. It startled me & I it. It quickly changed direction & landed on the roof.By the time I went for the camera, it flew off. I live in Sewaren. A small town located on the Arthur Kill (close to the Outerbridge Crossing) A few years ago, they disturbed a wildlife area on a penninsula, to build a park. This resulted in alot of wildlife making new homes closer to our homes. Anyway,one day last April, there was a beautiful'small owl sitting by my fence.Something was wrong with it, I walked right up to it. Again' I went for my camera. It was gone when I returned. A week later, I was cleaning up some leaves around that area, when I found the poor owl. Some thing had eaten it's head & it's breast. Later that day, I found 2 birds, eaten the same way. Just the head & the breast. I also found a bird still alive hopping around with it's tail bitten off. What kind of animal do you think would do that? Like I said, we do have alot of critters. I've seen skunks,opossums, ground hogs, deer,snakes, raccoons. Some one said they think they saw a fox once.What would do this? Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Jody
Diane McCool
28 Mar 2009, 17:09
Hi, I live in Monmouth County, New Jersey on about 1 acre of land. I have a very large mole problem (for about 3 years now). People have told me to place 2 owl nesting boxes around on either side of my yard about 12-30 feet high. I am in the process of trying to buy nesting boxes but am not sure what type of owls are in my area, should I buy Screech Owl nesting boxes or Barn Owl nesting boxes?\r\n\r\nAnything you can tell me would be much appreciated.\r\n\r\nThank you,\r\n
20 Mar 2009, 12:51
Yes Crystal they do eat other birds.
13 Mar 2009, 09:45
Hey everyone! My owl is still there to greet me every morning. I forgot to mention that I'm In No Arlington a few blocks from the Passaic River. I just found a dead bird in front of my house the other day. Do owl's eat other birds?
12 Mar 2009, 18:51
The GHOs are back! It sounds like they are near the river banks. I only just realized the picture of the Great Horned above is noted to be in Mountain Lakes. As I am is Boonton Twp. I am no longer surprised to hear them so near by! I hope I can catch a glipse one of these days. Any tips to spotting them?
11 Mar 2009, 22:15
Lorraine\r\nI'm in North Jersey and heard lots of owls in my day but heard a sound one night that also brought me to my computer to see if I could find a sounds sample resembling the source. I came across the great horned owl (check out the owlman's blog; see below for the link) the sound was a deep, low, repetitive, hoot that I almost thought was a bear accept for the repetition and "sameness" of the source of the sound. As far as I can tell it was a GHO and has since moved on. I am, however, happy to know the beautiful animal found my yard and hope it find's its way back soon.
Lorraine La Morte
11 Mar 2009, 22:04
We heard a very loud, very odd noise coming from the woods outside of our home tonight in Somerset County. I've listened to some owl call samples, but cannot place it. My husband took a video of it so we could capture the sound. Would you be interested in listening to it and telling us what kind of owl (if it is indeed an owl) is making the call?\r\n\r\nThank you.
10 Mar 2009, 07:03
Just heard a Great Horned Owl early yesterday morning in my pine tree in front of my house. Sounded like two mating. Thank you Mr. Vandervelt for adding the web page. I was also able to identify my owl by the web page you referenced.
07 Mar 2009, 15:59
Hello,\r\n I see a screech owl every few days in the same tree hollow in West Long Branch near Monmouth University. Definitely a red phase screech. He's sleeping during the day and does not always inhabit the hollow--or maybe he is in another part of it not visible to the street. Very cool. I have lived 50 plus years and had never seen one in the wild until this December. I see him once or twice a week now.
24 Feb 2009, 14:15
I live in Annandale in Hunterdon County, and we had a small reddish owl sitting in our driveway yesterday afternoon. It didn't even move when my husband opened the garage that was about 10 feet away. The owl just looked at him and sat there. We watched it for some time and got pictures and wondered if it was sick or just tired. It was there until it got dark and then we couldn't see it anymore. It was gone this morning.
19 Feb 2009, 17:17
Owlman...Great blog and pictures! Unfortunately I haven't heard them since that night. We do live near the Rockaway River, they may be nesting closer to the banks. We had 3 Coopers Hawks living here last year I did get a few snaps of them. They were amazing animals to watch. I've seen a red tailed Hawk diving into my front field twice now...but no sign of the GHOs. I'm keeping my eyes peeled!\r\nT.
19 Feb 2009, 13:17
Check out this site for info about attracting Screech owls\r\nhttp://www.owlbox.blogspot.com\r\nTerez, it sounds like a Great Horned owl. They will use red tailed hawk nests. Nesting starts around the beginning of Feb in NJ, so you should see something sitting on top of the hawk nest. I would appreciate it if you could send me more info on my blog. I'm in NW Jersey, so if we're close I would love to check it out.
17 Feb 2009, 19:57
It is 10:30 on a February night in North Jersey. My husband and I hear a deep, rhythmic hooting outside. We've lived here two years and never heard the sound before. Is it possible that we have a couple of Great Horned Owls?? We have a known vacant hawk nest in the vicinity of the area where we think the "hoots" are coming from. As I am not an accomplished outdoorsman I am uncertain as to what it is we are hearing. Do bears make deep and repetitive calls? I'm more leaning toward the owl. How exciting! Let me know what you all think.\r\nThanks\r\nJ.
09 Feb 2009, 18:04
I have never heard an owl hooting in my neighborhood, believe it is a barred owl(lived here 30 years) 5 minutes ago we heard one and then went outside and saw him in my next door neighbors tree (8:45pm) My friend is from Cambodia and says that they are here to take someones spirit and they do it 15-20 mins -meaning someone is about to die nearby soon. If it sits on the house directly - someone in the house is going to die.
18 Jan 2009, 08:51
I live in Sussex Co N.J. I have lots of owls around my home. But I am unable to find them now that Jan. has come, I want to follow them into the nesting and egg laying time in the next moth or so. And onto Spring and Summer with the little ones. Please give me some advice on trying to find them. Time of day, when it is best.
Tish P
06 Jan 2009, 06:20
We also live in Ramsey just off Wyckof ave and have been hearing the owls all last week. We also heard them last year around this time.\r\nT
01 Jan 2009, 08:58
Funny I just saw two owls standing on the roof of Marshalls on route 1 in the edison/woodbridge area. I never thought to see owls right out in the open in the daylight. Not to mention there was no woods around. they were beautiful.
09 Dec 2008, 16:50
Neat to find out others hear the Great Horned. I'm in Ramsey (located near Wyckoff, for those not familiar with the area) and I too heard the Great Horned one morning and looked it up on owl pages for identification. AND it was right around the same time that you heard it, Keith! Did you also read that they nest in NJ in Jan/Feb? I haven't heard it since. Perhaps it has made it's way more south. Keep posting, please.\r\n-D
Deb P.
24 Nov 2008, 05:21
I clearly heard a male Great Horned Owl last night from my home in Wyckoff (just east of the Ravine). Very exciting!
Keith L. Vandervelt
18 Nov 2008, 18:57
Last night at 2:00 a.m. I was awakend by a cooing of what seemed to be an owl. The windows were closed and I was sound asleep, yet it was loud enough to wake me up. It sounded, to me, like a conversation between two owls.\r\nThe following day I came upon www.owlpages.com. They have audible recordings of owls. I found an exact match - great horned owl pairing call. This was in Wyckoff, north bergen county.
11 Nov 2008, 20:08
I have been hearing hooting in the evenings and think we have an owl in one of our trees. I haven't seen anything but was just wondering if it is in fact an owl. I live in Middletown near the wetlands. Could it be possible. Is there anything we can do to keep it safe?
07 Nov 2008, 06:55
Michele,\r\nI suspect you are right about the owl being a 'great horned.' I have recently been hearing an owl around my house with a similar call, and doing some research I'm 80% sure of the ID, based on habitat/environ, call, and the tree species I think it is hunting from... I have the same. I am hoping it hangs around, but based on when it showed up and the time of year it was suggested that it won't stay long. I'm looking into attracting some... maybe cut down on the squirrel population natually.\r\nMDP
Michele Larson
09 Oct 2008, 18:28
I have been hearing a distinctive hooting of an owl for about a month or so now. I think it might be a Great Horned Owl. I live in Burlington Township. Does this make sense? His hoot sounds like hoo hoot hoot-hoot hoo hoo. :) Not to be technical or anything. Futher back in the summer I heard the owl and an echo back, but then neighbors cut down a small bank of pine trees and they were gone for a while. I don't hear an answer back, but one owl has sure been around the neighborhood. We do have voles, mice and chipmunks around. All of which could be dinner I suppose. \r\nAny confirmation would be appreciated!
Allison Myers
02 Oct 2008, 17:44
I believe I saw a barred owl this afternoon, in the woods behind Laurel Pond on Fort Dix, Burlington County, New Jersey. I was walking on the nature trail there when the owl flew from behind me, over my head, and perched high up in a tree 20-30 feet off the side of the trail. I didn't have binoculars with me and the owl was in the shade, but I could clearly see the barring on its back and a large, dish-shaped face with dark eyes. I estimated it to be about 18 inches tall. Unfortunately, it was silent, so no chance to verify by call . . .
Linda S
28 Sep 2008, 17:29
Adam,\r\nIt was very kind of you to make that call. Hopefully, the police contacted a wildlife organization that was able to help the little guy.
20 Sep 2008, 06:33
I live in Northern New Jersey and at work this morning there was a very small, possibly a baby owl in our parking lot. It appeared to be sick. It wouldn't move and just looked at me.\r\nI probably could have picked it up. I know nothing about owls so I called the police. The owl was brown and about 6 or 7 inches high. 09/20/08
Linda S
21 Jul 2008, 16:04
I spotted a very large owl this moring on my way to work in East Brunswick. He was just sitting there about a foot from the side of the road facing a large open grassy area. The road is located in a very busy area and I was very surprised. I have never seen anything like it before and was thrilled just to get a glimpse of him.\r\n\r\nI found a great site that provides excellent photos of NJ owls and the closest to the one I saw is a Barred owl. \r\n\r\nCopy and paste below: http://stevegreerphotography.com/new_jersey_owl_photos_information.shtml\r\ n \r\nThis site will be useful in helping you identify any owls you might see. Best wises.
Jean Waliky
21 Jul 2008, 04:23
Every night before dusk, an owl comes out of the woods and into the yard. It looks like the great horned owl. It is big with a white collar and light brown on its head and on the back of the neck. The chest is medium brown with black spots. Is this the great horned owl?\r\n\r\nI live in Clinton Township, Hunterdon County.
Al Colucci
18 Jul 2008, 07:56
I observed a pair of owls in and on my bird bath on July 17th at approx. 8:30 PM. I am located in middletown NJ near Chapel Hill Road. What kind could they be ? They stayed for about 15 minutes.\r\n\r\nAl
Kimberly Cross
18 Jun 2008, 17:35
My husband has been telling me of 2 large owls living in the trees behind our house. Tonight I kept hearing these birds singing or chirping and thought it was the birds who had taken up residence in our granddaughters playset. I went out to take pictures of a bird nest and eggs in the fort, when I seen a large bird fly out of a tree, then another. I called for my husband who grabbed the binoculars. They were both gray and they seemed to stay together. My husband also noticed a hawk and a few crows. We live in Atlantic County and it certainly is not winter as the article above applies. Hope to hear from you.
Ray Glass
19 Apr 2008, 18:52
My email address was accidentally ommitted from my request\r\n\r\nSincerely \r\nRay Glass\r\nglassray@comcast.net
Ray Glass
19 Apr 2008, 18:49
I seek to attract owls to my area. They would do well to control the rodent population and are quite a benefit to nature. I am not far from South Mountain Reservation and would be more than happy to build a suitable refuge high up in a tree to accomodate them naturally . There would be ni interaction with me personally and other humans would have even more limited acccess. Your advise is appreciated. \r\n\r\nRay Glass
bobbie Carey
06 Apr 2008, 07:13
We have an owl living in our neighborhood. He hoots late at night for a few days then nothing. about a month ago my neighbor saw him sitting on my fence he said he was a spotted owl. but when I look up the pootted owl it does not seem likely that is the same owl. I keep looking for him during the day,but have not seen him. Can you tell me what type you thing he is? And any suggestions for seeing him I wouldlove to take a picture. I live on sherwood Dr in Cliffwood Beach in Monmouth county. We are very close to the bay.\r\nHope to hear form you.\r\n \r\nBobbie\r\n\r\n

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