Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Barred Owl (Chouette rayée)

04 December 2018

     Barred Owl (Strix varia) is not uncommon in our area, although as is the case with most owls, finding them is a different matter entirely.
     Francine gets the credit for spotting this individual during our regular Tuesday walk.


     Once located, Barred Owls are generally not prone to immediately fleeing the scene and will tolerate human presence. Such was the case with this individual; it was certainly aware of us but made no attempt to leave.
    Barred Owl is a medium sized owl, ranging from 48.25cm - 56cm, with pronounced sexual dimorphism, females frequently being substantially larger than males. 
    It is probably fairly long-lived in the wild, although statistics are not readily available. The average age of re-encounter for banded birds is 2.5 years, but the record for longevity is 24 years 1 month, and that Minnesota bird died as a result of being entangled in fishing gear. No doubt the jettisoned mono filament line was far too heavy and cumbersome for the anglers to remove it when they left. 
     

     Barred Owls are in general non migratory. Historical accounts speak vaguely of "great flights" but such assertions are not supported by factual evidence, and no such large scale movements have been documented in the past century. 
     Typical habitat is moist forest, precisely the feature in which this bird was located, although with anthropogenic modification of the landscape Barred Owls have become slightly more adaptable.


    A.C. Bent observed in the 1930s "Barred Owls live mainly in deep, dark woods, heavily wooded swamps, gloomy hemlock forests, or the thick growths of tall, dense pines." In Bent's day more such habitat existed. In recent years Miriam and I have observed an individual perched on a branch over a road.
     The primary diet of Barred Owls is rodents, with mice, rats, voles and shrews predominant. However, like most birds of prey, Barred Owls are opportunistic and will take other small mammals and birds as large as Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). In some areas birds are a close second to mammalian prey.
     

     Barred Owls are too large to take advantage of even the largest woodpecker hole as a nesting cavity and rely on snags, rot holes and broken branches. Sometimes they will uses large stick nests from crows and hawks, and other large birds, even the disused nest of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). Their normal clutch is two to three eggs. Hatching is asynchronous; in a year of food abundance all the owlets are likely to survive to fledging, in years of scarcity the last born will succumb to starvation.


     For me, any encounter with an owl is memorable and this was no exception. I derived enormous pleasure from it and I know that the others did too.

79 comments:

  1. Nice owl. I think he's a sort of little brother from the Spotted Owl? Great photos. It's indeed so hard to find them. I love owls too. I love to hear them 🦉 In my language: oehoe, oehoe. I think in al language we write in a other style but we hear the same oehoe, haha.

    The only time I saw an owl (outside the zoo) was the evening that a large white owl flew head-on against the window of my brother's car. It was such a beautiful bird. It came flying from the forest, in the dark. Since that time I love white owls. But I don't love driving throught te forest any longer (in dark).

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  2. Actually Aritha, it is if anything the big brother to the Spotted Owl, and there is concern in Western Canada because the Barred Owl has expanded its range there and is now preying on the smaller Spotted Owl which is seriously endangered.

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  3. Nice shots! I remember long time back with a group and our leader played a screech owl tape to get some migrants to hopefully pop up and in flew a gorgeous barred owl a lifer for many in the group.

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  4. Hello David!
    Great captures of this beautiful Barred Owl! I love Owls!
    I like especially the third picture! Thank you for sharing!
    Have a happy Wednesday!
    Dimi...

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  5. Replies
    1. It is the bird that is impressive, not my photos!

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  6. What a beautiful bird. I am fascinated by their nesting habits. My mother was fascinated by owls and had a "collection" of them in various mediums (paintings and statues). I used to love to hear the barn owls hooting at night on our farm in PA. It was a hauntingly beautiful sound.

    Have a great Wednesday, David.

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    1. If they were hooting they were not Barn Owls, since Barn Owls do not hoot - more like a scream. They were probably either Barred Owls or Great Horned Owls. Great to hear nonetheless.

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  7. Brilliant looking owl David, would love to see one!

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    1. This is one species that would be hard to deliver if you come to visit, Matt, but right now I could guarantee a Snowy Owl. See you next week?

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  8. My thanks to you Francine for spotting this amazing owl on our walk. And David your pics and narrative bring him to life so wonderfully. Every sighting of an owl for me is so exciting!

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    1. If you ever lose that degree of excitement, Carol, better check whether you still have a pulse!

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  9. Hello David, Wonderful post and info on the Barred Owl. The photos are awesome. I love all the owls too, we have a resident pair of Barred Owls in the woods next to our home. It is neat just hearing them call. Now, the Snowy Owls are starting to show up in Maryland, I hope to see one soon. Happy Birding, enjoy your day!

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    1. Hello Eileen: We have Snowy Owls here every winter, but this year already seems to be a boom year for them. It is a spectacular bird, isn’t it?

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  10. No conocía este búho barrado amigo David y como siempre nos lo presentas con una calidad de imagen y en su habitad natural de maravilla, ¡precioso el reportaje! Siempre me han resultado aves muy atractivas, simpáticas, y fascinantes. Por desgracia en mi zona del levante español se suelen ver cada vez menos de estas preciosas aves.
    Un fuerte abrazo para todos amigo David.

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    1. Everywhere that the interests of birds and humans clash, Juan, birds lose.

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  11. Wonderful post and info on the Barred Owl, David. It is quiet impressive to see, I've never seen one in person.

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    1. Hi Bill: This species is native to North America, Bill, so you would not be able to find it in Ireland.

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  12. Beautiful photos of the owl, David! I love owls, but I have bever seen one. But I can hear one sometimes in the evening.

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  13. Lovely Barred Owl, I would follow him/her everywhere. But, I can't be there.

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  14. David I too love owls of any kind, but all I have seen here is a Little Owl and the Barn Owl. I saw many more in Africa long ago, but in those days I did not have my Nikon (sigh). We had an Eagle Owl that roosted in a tree right outside out bedroom window, we were 3 stories high, perfect for photos! Hope all is well Diane

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    1. Hi Diane: We did quite well with owls in South Africa. We saw Eagle Owls in several locations, but the most cooperative of all was at Kirstenbosch Gardens in Capetown, where one roosted right above the path. I suppose it was so used to people it didn't bother at all about the gawkers below it.

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  15. Hari Om
    Handsome, handsome, handsome. YAM xx

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    1. Oh the owl.....I thought you were talking about me!!

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  16. What an absolute beauty. I fall into the 'too many owls would be barely enough' category. And am (again) incensed at the death of an owl due to human laziness. It is sometimes hard to be proud of quite a lot of our species.

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  17. I am looking for owls everywhere and you were so lucky to see this amazing owl! And he sometimes is sleeping and sometimes his eyes are open. David, these are amazing photos of this bird!

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  18. I'm sure that you will not be surprised to hear that you grabbed my attention with this post, David, and what a treat it was! Wonderful photos of a fabulous bird and lots of information too. Thank you.

    If one of these showed up in these parts, I'd make it my business to ensure it was welcome and wasn't barred from anywhere!

    My love to you both - - - Richard

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  19. It certainly was a treat, Punster Pegler.

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  20. Very interesting post with good pictures and complete information, thanks for sharing

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  21. Hi David.

    Un hermoso cárabo americano, su plumaje es un perfecto camuflaje para su entorno. Gracias además por compartir información relativa a la especie.

    Un abrazo desde Galicia,

    Rafa.

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  22. Owls are such majestic creatures. Your photos are beautiful. I wish I could see them more on our farm.

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    1. Hi Michelle: If I am not mistaken you are in Kentucky. A couple of strategically placed nest boxes for Barn Owl might bring good results.

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  23. Beautiful owl, I do like them and haven't seen one in reality - they say they are wise.

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  24. Hi David.

    A beautiful Owl.
    Beautiful pictures.

    Groettie from Patricia.

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  25. That is a really splendid looking bird. Do you have any theory about why it evolved to have that interesting pattern all over it? It seems quite pale so that suggests light woodland to me, but I'm not enough of an expert to know.

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    1. Hi Jenny: Thanks for stopping by my blog. This owl seems to stand out, but in reality they are camouflaged quite well as you walk by and they sit motionless on a branch or up against a trunk. This is especially true deep in a forest in dappled light.

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  26. Hi David,
    Every encounter with an owl feels great. The birds manage to arouse a kind of mysterious atmosphere around them. Unfortunately I don't see them very often in the wild. The type you show us here I have never seen before. Maybe it is getting to time to pay a visit to Canada. "LOL".
    Greetings, Kees

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    1. Come on over, Kees. We will help you when you are here!

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  27. Ugglor ger mig alltid en mängd associationer, deras utseende är som en länk till urgamla tider långt innan människan erövrade jorden. Det märkliga ansiktet utstrålar visdom där de blickar ner på mänskligheten från sin upphöjda tillvaro, förmodligen funderar de på vad de tvåbenta varelserna sysslar med, skarpögda som de är. Jag har sällan fått se en uggla i verkligheten men tidig vår, när kvällarna ännu är mörka kan jag höra deras läten i skogen. Även deras kommunikation är ödesmättad, nästan olycksbådande i mörkret. De har begåvats med en skyddsdräkt som gör dem svåra att urskilja från trädet de sitter i, bara det känns som ett underverk i sig.

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  28. It's a stunning species ! Well, all big owls are....

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  29. Hi David,
    owls have something mystical about them.
    I never saw one in the wild; must be a special experience.

    Best regards, Corrie

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    1. You are right, Corrie. They are mystical.....perhaps this is why they feature so much in folklore and legend.

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  30. Fantastic images,this is one of my favourite Owls.
    John.

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  31. What an exquisitely marked bird! By the way, I was joking about my nocturnal Tawny Owl, I'd be very disappointed if he deserted the area. Likewise the geese that fly over most mornings and the Muntjac Deer who barks on winter nights.

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  32. Fabulous images. I have seen an owl around here a couple times - just fleeting glimpses of it flying - so I would love to get to see one for such an extended period of time as it appears you had in these photos. I had to chuckle at a few of them as it seems the owl is falling asleep - certainly not worried about you guys!

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  33. What great image of the owl you captured. I love owls of any kind.
    Here in Japan, owl is thought as a lucky charm!

    Happy weekend to you!

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    1. Hello Tomoko: I am happy to hear that owls are considered a lucky charm. In some cultures they are deemed to represent evil and are therefore persecuted.

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  34. Hi David, I came across this article and thought of you. It has some lovely photos of birds from Australia.
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2018/dec/07/bird-photo-of-the-year-2018-your-chance-to-vote-for-the-winner?CMP=fb_gu&fbclid=IwAR1qfV3MipZ5K3efqH3hAQsBSC0_oz60-Ccfj6WWoADh6p6T2xGQ2nmIgQw

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    1. Thanks very much for sending this, Bill, very kind of you.

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  35. Hi David. The idea that owls "rely on their camouflage" seems not to apply sometimes when we come across such individuals. This does not apply to our own Barn Owls but certainly does to our brown owls. If only we had Snowys I could test the theory more? Have a good weekend. Still rubbish here.

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  36. Hi David,
    I never ever have seen this beautiful Owl!!!! It is a beauty! Beautifully photographed!
    The species is also entirely unknown to me! We have here the tawny owl.
    Happy weekend!
    Best regards,
    Maria

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  37. I am often awakened about 4:30 in the morning by the "Who Cooks For You? Who Cooks For You-All" of the one that lives in our little woods. Just this week he/she has also been calling about 9:30 at night. It's one of my favorite sounds in the world and I feel so lucky to have them nesting here. Now, we have lived here and enjoyed hearing them for three years and have yet to see them once! Your photos are wonderful.

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    1. I am really happy to hear that Barred Owls have given you so much pleasure, Cynthia, and I hope that you do get to see them at some point.

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  38. owls look sleepy. Is t because of day light?
    have a great day

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  39. That's totally fascinating, David. And beautiful shots. I knew little of the barred owl although I did have one remarkable encounter with one (or rather, observing one). It had set up in my sister-in-law's tree outside their deck and would be present for hours. I'm sure it was looking for the mini rodents. I have a photo -- not great (shot through a window, funky light) of a squirrel that climbed the tree and was within inches of the owl, and the two are just looking at each other. They held the pose a long while. The owl must not have been hungry because he then turned back! Thanks for the history and background.

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  40. Hi David, I really enjoyed this post and photos on the Barred Owl. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend! PS, thanks for the comment on my blog.

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  41. Hi David,
    What a fascinating encounter and report on this delightful owl.
    As you say you were lucky in the find, super images.
    All the best, John

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  42. Amazing pictures of the Barred Owl. I’m guessing it’s not an easy bird to get close to, so these pictures are amazing.

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  43. Wonderful photos of the Barred Owl! And I enjoyed reading the information too

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  44. oh this is so exciting david!! lucky you to get a look at it and pictures as well. you captured excellent images!!

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  45. Hello David. Interesting post. It is a wonderful owl. Great photos!

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  46. It looked very familiar... and is indeed a close relative of our Strix uralensis. The Ural owl has been my favourite since I met one (many years ago) and helped to rescue it. :)
    Beautiful photos!

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    1. It is indeed a close relative of Ural Owl, Sara.

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  47. I haven't seen our owl in ages. I spotted a pellet yesterday, though!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

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  48. Wonderful blog David of a wonderful species. I love owls, all sorts of them. Of course I've never seen this species in the wild but 'our' Dutch owls are all also beautiful and attractive.

    Kind regards,
    Marianne

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  49. Splendid photographs of this beautiful owl David.
    Greetings Tinie

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  50. What a wonderful bird of a very beautiful owl. The photos are superb. I so love owls and spotting one is always such a treat.

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  51. I should say that I get pleasure every time I open your blog and am greeted by that beautiful red cardinal!

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  52. Hello David,
    this is really great to meet such a fantastic owl !!!! I really love owls and I will probably never meet this owl. Really super nice to see and I am grateful for sharing.
    Dear greetings,
    Helma xx

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    1. Any sighting of an owl is wonderful, Helma. Right now there are quite a few Snowy Owls around here - a spectacular bird.

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  53. We have a nesting pair of barred owls in the woods on at my house. I don't see them often but here them all the time. How cool you got such great shots! Seeing an owl anytime is fantastic. They are one of my favorite birds.

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  54. A lovely post and photographs of the Barred Owl.

    All the best Jan

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  55. Hermoso animal David. Fantasticas fotos.Gracias por tan buena información.
    Buen jueves desde Béjar. Salamanca.

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