Last night in the Springs I was just getting ready to leave the house, putting some things away, hanging a coat in the closet, when I heard a sound I'd never heard before outside the bedroom window. Over the summer a pair of screech owls woke us up a few nights with their unearthly call -- they sound like a very distressed raccoon, some careening warble of trouble -- but nothing like this. I went outside to listen, and there were the soft notes of the call again. I did a quick web search, listening to owl calls, and found this. If you click on "Typical Male" you'll hear exactly what I heard.
A short-eared owl in our maples! I left feeling sort of aglow with the experience. I drove to the train station, opened the car door, and there it was again, another owl calling over the parking lot. Then, on my fifteen minute walk to the jitney stop, beside the fire station, another owl; on the other side of it, another. Then, by the farmer's market, the next one: Amagansett was full of owls! And they were calling to each other from tree to tree in the warm November evening.
The web page says they glide low over open fields at night, looking for prey. Right behind the trees where I heard them calling there are big open fields -- corn in the summer, and the new organic farm behind the market. I love thinking of the dark shapes of the owls, silhouetted against the stars, flying there a few feet above the earth.