Only once have I seen an owl in flight. We were visiting with neighbors on their porch one summer evening and this big bird swept across the back yard. I don’t recall the wing-span, but it was sizable and the wings powerfully swung through in flight. Then the bird disappeared in a nearby tree, and an authoritative hooting followed. Unmistakably, an owl. It was a magical moment for me.
We have other neighbors who are the happy hosts of a couple of adult barred owls and (most recently) a single owlet. I can hear them chatter at night sometimes but have never seen them except through pictures. I envy our neighbors their guests.
Here are some fascinating facts about barred owls:
- The barred owl is also known as a hoot owl because of its distinct call.
- This owl’s preferred habitat is old forests near a water source. It is territorial and usually non-migratory. Unless pushed out by its own predator (the great horned owl) or altered habitat, the barred owl may stay its whole life in the same area.
- It is a raptor (a bird that preys on smaller animals for food) and a night hunter. Its daytime counterpart is the red-shouldered hawk. They share the same preferred habitat and foods. The owl will not tolerate intrusion by the hawk; fortunately for both, they rarely encounter each other.Photo Credit: Daily Mail
- Although barred owls probably mate for life, they are only together during mating and nesting. Once the owlets are out of the nest, the owls return to a more solitary life.
- The barred owls may be responsible for a decline in the population of spotted owls. There has been a gradual, decades-long increase in the range of habitat for the barred owls. They are most commonly found in the Eastern United States, but now are present in the Great Plains states and the Northwest. Their population has thrived in these regions, threatening the smaller, less aggressive native spotted owls. A federally funded owl removal program was initiated to bring down the barred owl population, giving spotted owls opportunity to repopulate.
Owls are intriguing creatures. They are first predators snatching up all sorts of little forest animals at night, and at the same time, they have these intelligent human-like faces that draw our attention and affection. Dirya Srinivasan is an author and illustrator who brings a tiny character to life in her books about Little Owl. Little Owl’s Night and Little Owl’s Day give us a bird’s eye view of the world as this little one might see it.
The night is opened up and made friendly to the reader. The day is full of wonder for Little Owl who rarely sees this bright woodland world (which is fortunate, given what I’ve learned about the red-shouldered hawk’s appetite for small creatures). We have these board books for our granddaughter, but I can see her enjoying them as she grows into a reader herself.
So that’s my introduction to you of our neighbors, the barred owl family in the woods beside our neighbors. What cohabitants teach you about the beautiful varied life we enjoy together?