Been hearing this unusual sound lately at night? This fledgling makes that slightly eery call to mom and dad for food and attention. When I took these recent photos, it was sitting silently in the evening in my yard, apparently practicing hunting on its own. A crow was none too happy to see this youngster moving into its turf, and for a little while the crow raised a ruckus.
In time this bird’s remaining downy baby feathers will be fully replaced with sleeker, more defined plumage, and it will live alone until it finds a mate at the start of breeding season next spring.
This bird is common in the Northwest, and in recent years its population on Bainbridge Island has increased, in part because it is a fairly opportunistic species able to eat a wide range of prey, including squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds up to the size of grouse, amphibians, and insects. It also can eat your small cat. Larger raptors, such as great horned owls, prey on this bird.
Adults make the classic “who cooks for you” vocalization. If you answer it, you just might find yourself having a conversation with one of these lovely raptors.