Well, ” Owl ” Be Darned!!!

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Thursday,  Feb. 16,  2017

With such  beautiful weather today,  I  decided to take advantage and clean out my shed.   From time to time, I heard a strange call,  kind of throaty and gurglely .    It  was a new sound to me and I had no idea what it was.      About the third time I heard it, I also heard a squirrel scurry on the tree  about five feet from me.  I glanced toward the tree to make sure the  creepy squirrel was scurrying away from me and not toward me,  and  to my utter surprise I was  looking  right into the face of a Barred Owl  sitting  on the 2nd branch from the bottom!!!!

Now I have seen owls before  – at the zoo, at the bird sanctuary and on bird walks where someone else has seen them first and pointed them out to me.  But never have I seen one in my own back yard – so close and starring right back at me!    I quietly  backed up and went inside to get  my camera and binoculars.  Once back outside I saw that the owl had moved to the overhead wires.   Dusk was quickly approaching so only one photo was a keeper.

barred_owl-at-wilstead-feb-15-2017

But this image,  borrowed from the internet,  gives  a clearer  picture of my surprise visitor.  Barred Owls  reside in Missouri year round , are about 21 inches in size (top to bottom) and have a wing span of 3 and 1/2  to 4 feet wide.   Courtship and breeding  begin in February/March.  They  mate for life and  their territories/nest sites are maintained for many years.  Barred Owls have been known to live  32 years in captivity and 10 years or more in the wild.    Great Horned Owls are their only natural enemy.

Also most interestingly, I  have discovered, they are known to sometimes nest in the empty nest of the red-tailed hawk.   This is happy news to me, as I just happen to have a used red-tailed hawk’s nest  at the top of the very tree I saw this owl in!!!   So “owl” be listening and watching to see if  he/she  is my new backyard  tenant…………..

 

Hope you also  enjoyed my surprise visitor!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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