On a visit to the West Cranberry Tract at Lynde Shores Conservation Area in Whitby, in Ontario, another keen birder pointed out to Bob and me this Barred Owl (Strix varia) perched high in a tree. Completely at ease, it was wiling away the day quite oblivious of the interested observers nearby.
Lynde Shores Conservation Area always seem to be well-populated with birds from a variety of species. Bob and I have never been disappointed by our visits to the area.
Apparently two Barred Owls have been a common presence along the hiking trail at the West Cranberry Tract over the course of the winter. Despite other visits by Bob and me, this is the first time we have spotted one of the resident owls. Can you spot it in amongst the thick branches?
Barred Owls are so-named because they are heavily barred on their heads, necks, tails and flight feathers. The bars on the chest are horizontal; the abdomen is vertically striped with brown. Barred Owls are also referred to as Hoot Owls for their vocalizations that consist of a series of 8-9 baritone hoots.
I am enamoured with owls of any kind. The Barred Owls, in particular, with their rounded heads, big dark eyes and plump bodies, look so cute and cuddly. This Barred Owl was taking its ease in the morning sunshine, probably after a hard night of hunting.
As you see in our video, the Barred Owl seemed to become more alert to the activity around it, daring to open its eyes for a quick peak.
When looking at the Barred Owl from the rear, one can really appreciate the symmetry of the mottled greyish brown feathers combined with those that are buffy white. The tips of the feathers appear to be very delicate.
The tail feathers are horizontally barred like those of the head, neck and flight feathers.
Barred Owls resemble Great Grey Owls but distinguishing features include the barred breast, black eyes and smaller size.
The legs and feet of Barred Owls are covered in feathers right up to the talons. The needle-sharp claws on this owl ensured that it remained secure on its perch.
As Bob and I lingered nearby, I suddenly heard a scurry of noise deeper in the woods. I thought perhaps a deer was approaching; their tracks were evident everywhere in the snow. Instead, a hungry flock of Eastern Wild Turkeys converged on the hiking trail where people were offering bird food.
The Barred Owl turned a blind eye to this feeding frenzy, and that is when Bob and I decided it was time to leave the West Cranberry Tract and head a little further east to the other side of Lynde Shores Conservation Area. The Barred Owl remained content where we found it.
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