© 2023 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Discover Nature: Courting Owls

Missouri Department of Conservation

On a crisp Missouri night, take a walk in the woods and listen. You’ll likely hear one of our state’s most fascinating birds.  This week on Discover Nature, listen for owls courting in the woods. 

Long-entwined in human history and folklore, science has stripped away superstitions that once connected these birds to witchcraft and death.  Instead, we now recognize the unique role they play in controlling populations of mice, rats, and snakes.

Armed with sharp talons and powerful beaks, these nocturnal predators have three-dimensional night-vision and a keen sense of hearing.  A barn owl can locate its prey with pinpoint accuracy, in total darkness, with using sound alone. 

Serrated-edge feathers on the front of their wings make their flight stealthily silent.  However, in winter, you can hear Missouri’s owls before you see them, as they call for mates from their treetop perches. 

Listen for the ‘who-cooks-for-you’ hooting of a barred owl, the rare and raspy call of a snowy owl, the deep, muffled stuttering of a great horned owl, or the chilling scream of an endangered barn owl.

Learn more about Missouri’s owls,  and listen to their courting calls at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Trevor serves as KBIA’s weekday morning host for classical music. He has been involved with local radio since 1990, when he began volunteering as a music and news programmer at KOPN, Columbia's community radio station. Before joining KBIA, Trevor studied social work at Mizzou and earned a masters degree in geography at the University of Alabama. He has worked in community development and in urban and bicycle/pedestrian planning, and recently served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia with his wife, Lisa Groshong. An avid bicycle commuter and jazz fan, Trevor has cycled as far as Colorado and pawed through record bins in three continents.
Related Content