Sunday, May 30, 2010

Barred Owl

Almost every day this month, we've seen a Barred Owl (Strix varia) in our yard.

He has several favorite perches where our lawn dissolves into rocks. He usually perches about 8-12 feet (2.4 - 3 meters) off the ground.

We've seen him successfully hunt for chipmunks several times during daylight hours. (Warning: 1 somewhat gross chipmunk picture ahead.)

Sighting his prey

Swooping down

Chipmunk in his talons

Preparing to take off

We suspect that there is a nest nearby, and have spent hours with binoculars trying to find a tree with a hole that might be hosting an owl family, or a nest in a tree. We know that other barred owls in a neighboring town recently left their nest box, so the timing is right.

The reason we're so interested in the nest is that for a part of their life cycle, the young owls, also known as "branchers," supposedly perch together near the nest. To say we'd love to get photos of that would be an understatement!

We've found plenty of holes in trees, at least one of them with some surprising inhabitants....but we haven't figured out where the owl family lives.

That's OK. You know that I love owls, and having one visit our yard so frequently has been incredibly fun for me. Whenever I'm outside, I'm pretty sure there's an owl watching me.

Often blue jays alert us to the owl's presence. They'll dive bomb him, squawking to try to drive him away. Whenever we hear a crowd of jays, we grab binoculars and get another glimpse of "our owl".

Related posts:

Snowy Owl in December 2008
Great Gray Owl in April 2009
Eastern Screen Owl in January 2010


Theresa said...

yrOh that is just so neat! Super fabulous pictures too.
No problem with the chippy death scene. At least 4 times a week I spy one of the cats with something in their mouths.

Synnøve. said...

I love to watch owls, they are so fantastic to see.
I havent got that close to someone as you had, but whit a telelens on the camera you come pritty close.

The spring/summer hasnt quite decided if she shoudl come and stay. Its cold in the nights, today it was 3 degrees plus when I come down to the kitchen. Outside that is hihi.
The sun is here, the birds are singing, but there is something missingt.... The warmth outside....
Hopefully it comes during the morning.

Il wish you a nice last day of May.
Hugs Synnöve.

Cindie Kitchin eweniquely ewe said...

what great pictures of your owl!

Deanna MacCrone Johnson said...

Awesome and fascinating and what amazing pictures!

Tina T-P said...

Wow! He (or she) is very cool! We have owls but only hear them at night - I think they live up in the big barn across the street. Good luck on finding the nest. T.

Lois Evensen said...

What great pictures! Fantastic! :)

Delighted Hands said...

I fell in love with owls when I sighted a snowy owl on our school building when I was in the fifth grade.........even collected owl bric a brac for years. It is wonderful to have such a visit for so long. Hope you catch the nestlings.

Marsel said...

These pictures are amazing! I especially love the one with the blue jay.

Jennifer said...

That is so exciting! I'm hoping we'll have more experiences like that in TN!

Acorn to Oak said...

Wow! It's gorgeous! That must be so awesome to be able to see it everyday! Great pictures!

Leigh said...

What a treat. My dad loves owls, I think I've mentioned that before. We've listened and looked for them around here, but none so far. Maybe it's just as well with our cats and other critters.

Sharon said...

Your photos are spectacular - I am amazed at the spectrum you were able to capture. Thanks so much for sharing your world. He looks so sleepy and uninterested - hah!

Janet said...

Those owl pictures are just fantastic. What a treat.

I'm glad you've extended the colours of the month - I'll try to get some posted tomorrow.


Hilary said...

wow, those are some awesome owl pictures you