Sooty Owl

To: chatline <>
Subject: Sooty Owl
From: John Harris <>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2017 03:29:23 +0000

A neighbour who is very knowledgeable about birds, although not a COG member, asked me on Thursday about an owl which perched on his clothesline early on Tuesday evening. He was alerted by its unusual call which he described as a descending call, like a falling bomb. He saw the owl well in the torchlight, which he described as a largish owl, larger than the Boobook, grey in colour and with a solid, hunched shape. Its descending call, he said, was nothing like other owls he knew, quite unlike the Boobook nor the Barking owl.  He tried to photograph it with torch light but couldn’t. We agreed that it was almost certainly a Sooty Owl. 

                On Wednesday evening, I heard the ‘falling bomb’ call about dusk. I am familiar with the Sooty Owl’s descending call particularly since one nested on my property on the south coast some years ago. I went out and walked around the trees behind our houses. I heard the call again but somewhat further away and when I got to where it seemed to have come from, I did not hear it again.

                I did not hear it on Thursday but on Friday night I heard the call again, this time in the early hours of the morning. I went out the back with my iPad and played the Sooty owl ‘falling bomb’ call from the Pizzey and Knight app and the bird answered. I went out the back gate  and tried to find it but despite playing the call several times, I got no further response. I am certain this was a Sooty Owl. No bird has a call like it and my neighbour accurately describes it.

                I have not heard the call for three nights now. The purists will say I should not have played the recording and that I have probably scared the owl away!

I suppose I should report this on eBird and my GBS site.

                John Harris






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