Want baby owls in your garden? Move to Austin, Texas.

Its about 7pm and I’m watching cable news (again) waiting for the macaroni cheese in the oven to finish cooking and my husband comes running in from the garden.

“Put in your shoes, come with me, quick”

For some reason the mention of shoes had me thinking that there was a venomous coral snake in the garden (which has been seen by our neighbors). So with some trepidation I put on my shoes and followed him out. I walked through the newly regrown grass looking carefully at the ground. Then, as we reached the edge of the garden under the old gnarled live oak tree, he said ‘Look up’ and I did.

There unmistakably was one cute grey baby owl. ‘Wow’ I said.


Then I saw there were two.

DSC_2538 (1)

So, I have a bit of a thing about Owls. Its true. It started as a kid and ended up being for a while the constant theme of Birthdays and Christmas: owl cards, owl paintings, owl statues. Till eventually I stopped it. Not wanting to end up one of those people with cupboards full of bizarre themed objects. But my love of the actual bird has never stopped.

It was one of the many delights of moving to the countryside from London to hear the distinctive hoot at night. In Suffolk it was so loud as to actually be intrusive on occasion! But that was forgotten the balmy evening we saw a barn owl flying low and silent over the field behind our garden.

Barn Owl

I hoped, after that, to actually see it in the tree next to our barn where from all the noise it must have been roosting but in all our time there I never did.

Moving back to the big city when we came to Austin I thought my days of hearing owls nearby, let alone seeing them were over.

Then when I was walking my dog in the ‘canyon’ the other side of the park I was aware of large wings beating as something rose from by the creek when I looked up there in the tree was a Barred owl.IMG_5821

Barred Owl in birding display

Barred owls are actually huge; about 6.1 inches long, with a wingspan of 15 inches, and weighs about 1.5 ounces; so you would think difficult to miss. But, as you can see from the photo I snapped, they blend in well to the background.

Despite this because they fly in daylight I have actually seen the Barred owl fairly frequently in the streets around our house especially when I am driving the kids to school. They are now used to me stopping the car to exclaim over the owl.

Now I have the thrill of baby owls actually in our garden.

Owls survive in a big city like Austin because of the large areas of undisturbed green belt that have been left as the city expanded.

Barton Creek Greenbelt which our canyon connects to is one of the most popular with many places to access it across the city along its 12 mile length.



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