A Barred Owl we spotted in Thickson’s Woods in Whitby

A Barred Owl we spotted in Thickson’s Woods in Whitby

Barred Owl sits in tree- Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

On a bitterly cold January day with temperatures of -20 Celsius when the wind chill was factored in, Bob and I,  drove out to Thickson’s Woods in Whitby, Ontario, because we had heard that two Great Horned Owls make their home in that unique small forest.  As it turned out we didn’t find the Great Horned Owls, but did find this Barred Owl sitting in the woods.

Barred Owl puffed up against the cold - Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

We searched the trees high and low, and even had locals assisting in the hunt, but we found neither of the Great Horned Owls. Instead, we were thrilled to come across a Barred Owl (Strix varia) hunkered down in a birch tree with its feathers making the perfect camouflage against detection.

Barred Owl in camouflage 3- Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

Other visitors to the woods also reveled in the Barred Owl’s presence, even as the owl intently scoured the locale for something to eat. Given the subzero temperatures, the owl would need to ingest more food in order to keep its body temperature within a safe range for survival.

Barred Owl looks towards the sun - Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

At 3 p.m., the heat of the day, the air was still brutally cold with a brisk wind tousling the owl’s feathers.

Barred Owl catches some rays - Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

Jean shoots barred owl, Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

The owl had settled itself on the branch of a tree next to this walkway. It seemed like a good place to scope out rodents as a meadow backed the thick row of trees on the one side, with the main forest just behind me.

Barred Owl sits in limb - Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

The owl eventually moved to another perch where it actually was able to sit in some sunlight.

Barred Owl with yellow beak- Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

Barred Owl feathers on back - Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

In this photo, the beautifully marked back and tail feathers are really showcased.

Barred Owl closeup of side of head- Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

Barred Owl closeup of face - Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

Barred Owl takes flight - Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

The owl constantly perused its surroundings, on the lookout for some prey to catch. In the end, the owl took flight.

Thickson's Woods - Whitby, Ontario

Bob and I then meandered the trails of the nearby meadow where we saw rabbit tracks in the light layer of snow.

Cottontail Rabbit - Thickson's Woods - Whitby - Ontario

This furry little fellow was foraging for food beneath some evergreen trees only a few feet from where the owl had been perched. We wondered whether this Cottontail Rabbit might become the owl’s next meal.

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