Barred Owl we sighted at Thickson’s Woods in Whitby
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.
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.
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.
At 3 p.m., the heat of the day, the air was still brutally cold with a brisk wind tousling the owl’s feathers.
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.
The owl eventually moved to another perch where it actually was able to sit in some sunlight.
In this photo, the beautifully marked back and tail feathers are really showcased.
The owl constantly perused its surroundings, on the lookout for some prey to catch. In the end, the owl took flight.
Bob and I then meandered the trails of the nearby meadow where we saw rabbit tracks in the light layer of snow.
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.