Hello Stalkers! In case you missed it (because it happened fast) we had a contest yesterday on our Facebook page. If you did miss it, I would encourage you to visit the page, click like and then at the top subscribe to notifications. That way you will be notified when new posts are made and you won’t miss anything else! Mike created a few new videos this week and they are available on Youtube and on the video blog; most notable is the Iridescent Clouds Video. It’s absolutely beautiful.
Welcome, to the eighth installment of Stalking Mike Blair Outdoors, we are so happy that you all are sticking around with us and participating. I’m seeing more and more people leaving feedback for Mike and it’s so wonderful to see. Last week, we discussed the colorful Northern Cardinal, this week we’re featuring another bird that doesn’t migrate or travel very far – the Barred Owl.
Mike has expressed an enthusiasm for seeking out these secretive raptors. They’re difficult to see in the daylight, resting and camouflaged by their surroundings. Coming out at dusk and hunting through the night. These nocturnal creatures can be difficult to spot. Luckily, throughout Mike’s years of experience he has found ways to draw them near and capture some amazing footage and photography for us to enjoy. He talks a little bit about this process and give some facts in his video Calling Owls. You’ll also be able to see a variety of other owls, in this video, in addition to the Barred Owl.
The reason for it’s name is mainly due to it appearance. The Barred Owl is mottled brown and white all over. It features vertical brown bars on its underparts and horizontal bars on the upper breast. It’s eyes are a dark brown, almost black. It’s these neutral colors and patterns that allow it to blend in so well with its natural surroundings. This owl is a rather large and stocky bird. It has a rounded head and no ear tufts, with a medium length, rounded tail.
Since these birds are so secretive and hard to see, Mike calls them with an electronic bird call that makes the call of a Barred Owl (as well as other birds). The Barred Owl makes throaty noises and it’s call is described as “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” This species will readily respond and search out to its sounds of its species. Mike has described it as a “raucous call.”
Barred Owls call areas with plentiful, large, mature trees home. Forest and woods are common places to find these birds and are often near water. This species is very territorial and will scare off other owls in their area. They have even been known to kill the rare screech owl to reduce the hunting competition. However, the Great Horned Owl, is a formidable foe and one of the Barred Owl’s few predators. The raptor’s fierce territorial nature is heightened even more during mating and nesting season.
It is commonly thought that Barred Owls will mate for life. They nest in tree cavities and sometimes nests that were previously occupied by other animals, such as squirrels. This mated pair will only have one brood each season. The Barred Owl will have a clutch of one to five eggs. These eggs are pure white with a rough surface. While these owls will leave a disturbed nest while it is in the egg stage, they will never leave a nest with nestlings. The incubation period is between 28 and 33 days. The nestling period is between 28 and 35 days. Once the nestlings get older they will venture out to the opening of the nest. When the parents think they are ready to learn how to fly, they will withhold food from the nestlings for a few days so that they are hungry. Then they will bring food near the nest but just out of reach, forcing the small birds to overcome their fear and test out their wings. You should go visit Mike’s video Nesting Season. While it features other birds as well, it does have some great information and shots of Barred Owls.
In case you were unaware, the term raptor means a bird of prey. Owls are birds of prey. Meaning they hunt for their food. The Barred Owl has tremendous eyesight and hearing. They’ll perch on a limb and scout out for their prey. Once they have found it they will swoop down and use their sharp talons to pick it up. If it is a small prey they may eat it whole, if it is large they’ll use their beak to pull of bits of meat. They hunt small animals – squirrels, mice, rabbits and some other birds. Amphibians, reptiles and some invertebrate are also on the menu and they may, on occasion, catch fish.
A couple of fun facts for you – the oldest recorded Barred Owl was twenty-four years of age. And a fact that I found absolutely fascinating is that Pleistocene fossils of Barred Owls have been found in Florida, Ontario and Tennessee. These fossils are up to 11,000 years old!! Who knew?
As I mentioned in the beginning of this newsletter, Barred Owls don’t migrate. They stay in or near their territory all year round. Even during this time they don’t travel very much. According to www.allaboutbirds.com out of 158 banded owls that were tracked, they never went farther than six miles from their origin. This photo from the same site shows the current range that Barred Owls occupy.
I enjoy owls. Their secrecy and the marvelous skills of their species fascinate me. I certainly hope that Mike continues with his talent to stalk these creatures and bring forth even more information and amazing photos of them. We will continue to stalk him and bring the products of his hard work to you. How about you? Visit the website or one of the numerous social media websites and let him know what you think. Invite your friends to obtain subscription so they don’t keep missing out on this incredible work that Mike produces and that we hope he will keep producing!
Check out the Barred Owl Photo Gallery!