I live in New Jersey, USA. I just got home from owling with a friend, it is currently 2:32AM here on the east coast of the USA. I have been unsuccessful at finding/hearing any owls other than great horned and short-eared owls despite a lot of enthusiasm and effort. I am not sure if there are secrets to this trade that I am unaware of or possibly certain aspects of my approach that are preventing me from detecting my targets (long eared, saw whet or screech owls). I live near Cape May, NJ and just recently during Xmas bird counts I learned of some general locations that people recorded these owls on their counts. I have used the advantage of knowing these general locations along with ebird reports and despite visiting these general locations I not had any luck.
So far the approaches that I have attempted include walking in farm fields and listening at both dawn and dusk. Sometimes I use a playback and sometimes I do not. I have tried owl calls as well as rodent squeeks to no avail. I have also attempted playing owl calls through the speakers of my car along roadsides. I will park and turn the lights off and roll the windows down and play the calls in 2-5 minute intervals and not get out of the car as not to disturb the birds by the slamming of the car door. I have tried adjusting the volume of the speakers ranging from quiet to slightly loud (subjective I know but not too loud)...
To be clear I do have a lot of respect for these birds. I do not wish for anyone to give me my owls, I want to find them on my own. I do not have any intention of harassing them repeatedly and would be satisfied even if I do not see them. If I only could hear them or detect them somehow. I am just baffled by the reports I hear from expert birders that record all of my target owls in one night of owling.
Is there any advice that someone could offer me?