was a sighting of a Barred Owl (11-12-22). I have other photos but wanted to share these first. We were walking back to our car and there was a young couple with two small children standing in front of where we had parked. They were looking up into the trees and pointing. It truly pays to ask, "What are you looking at?" They said, "An owl!" They saw a flurry of movement and knew something large had landed in the tree causing them to look upward and they spotted it almost immediately. This happened just before we arrived.
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
A SPECIAL GIFT TODAY...
And here it is, a Barred Owl (). What makes this so special is that we haven't seen one in several years. The only sighting of one in its natural habitat, was in Florida several years ago. To finally see one in our own backyard, so to speak, was truly a gift (I always look out for them on all of our visits to the parks but have never been successful). I think what helped was that we decided to come later in the day, and the light was fading fast.
Barred Owls are actually year-round residents and relatively common in the Eastern United States. They also live in parts of Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and even a few pockets in Mexico. In the western United States, they are also seen in northwestern Montana and northern Idaho.
Barred owls were first verified in southwest Montana in 1909 and in northwest Montana in 1921 (although reports of the species may date back to the 1870s) but not in Idaho until 1968. Barred Owls don’t migrate, and they don’t even move around very much. Of 158 birds that were banded and then found later, none had moved farther than 6 miles away. Homebodies! Yay for homebodies! Yes, you could say I am a homebody at heart, and I feel a kinship to these birds, especially in this stage of my life.
At the Audubon website here, there is more information. As you scroll down that page, on the right you come to several buttons where you can listen to their vocalizations.
My son and daughter-in-law like to sit on their balcony in the evenings and have been hearing an interesting sound coming from the trees as it gets dark. I played the owl calls when he popped over this morning, and he thought it was very similar to what they had heard.
The oldest recorded Barred Owl was at least 26 years, 7 months old. It was banded in North Carolina in 1993 and caught due to injury in 2019. Young Barred Owls can climb trees by grasping the bark with their bill and talons, flapping their wings, and walking their way up the trunk.
Pleistocene fossils of Barred Owls, at least 11,000 years old, have been dug up in Florida, Tennessee, and Ontario. The Paleocene genera Berruornis and Ogygoptynx show that owls were already present as a distinct lineage some 60-57 million years ago Mya - the definition of 'mya' is 'million(s) years ago. An example, "Non-avian dinosaurs went extinct around 66 mya."), hence possibly also some 5 million years earlier, at the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. This makes them one of the oldest known groups of non-Galloanserae landbirds.
Click on all the links above and you will get a lot more information than what I have shared today. There is also a great page on owls at Wikipedia. You can click on this link to go there.
There are at least three parking lots at the park and we lucked out choosing this one. We thanked the young family as this sighting made our day. We probably would have missed it entirely if not for them. Our owl was in the top of the tree and hard to see with the naked eye, well camouflaged at that. Gregg asked the couple if they would like to take a closer look through our camera lens, which they were happy to do.
As for me, my inner child and I were waltzing in my head on cloud nine! Seeing this beautiful bird was a great way to end our trip to the park.
There will be more photos from our latest walk as soon as I can put a post together.