As a lifelong birder and raptor fan, it seemed I was always frustrated in my quest to see a Barred Owl. When I lived in South Florida, I frequented the Everglades, where I saw many incredible birds. But despite hearing the haunting “Who-cooks-for-you?” call drift across the swamps, I never had a sighting.
That bad luck seemed to follow me to Tennessee, where multiple unseen owls screamed daily across the tree-filled Hollow where I lived. I even made a couple of trips to Radnor Lake, a place where, aside from its many other charms, Barred Owls are almost guaranteed.
Well, the third time was truly a charm! Since my first magical sighting of an apparently unconcerned owl sitting next to the path, I have been blessed with an owl almost every visit. This past weekend, another wish was fulfilled – to see one hunting! I watched this owl stalking the streams, coming up with a staple of the Barred Owl diet – crayfish! It may not be as spectacular as watching a Peregrine Falcon’s plunge or a Golden Eagle’s swoop, but I enjoyed every minute.
Taking a bit of a different tack this week. I found some pictures from a raptor rehabilitation center I volunteered for in Arizona. Wild at Heart (http://wildatheartowls.org/) does rescue and rehabilitation for injured and orphaned raptors (birds of prey) in the Phoenix, Arizona area. I was privileged to volunteer for them for a few years. One of the most important things they do is relocate Burrowing Owls.
These amazing birds actually live underground, and that is what gets them in trouble. When new construction is planned, in a previously untouched place, the owls are in danger of getting smooshed in their burrows by the excavation and heavy equipment. Luckily, this is illegal, and companies must contract through a company like WAH to safely remove the owls and relocate them. But these little buggers know where home is, and if released, would fly right back into danger. They must be held for 60 days to break their “site loyalty”. During this time, they are fed and cared for by the amazing staff there. Also during this time, new burrows are being dug in safe areas (such as native reservations), so the owls have a home to go to once their time is up. They may not seem grateful, but whenever I cleaned their aviaries, these frightened owls would often land on me as if I were part of the perching! I could just lift them off me and place them out of the way. If you can’t tell, they are my favorite owl. I have some terrific pictures of babies, because WAH will even take eggs they find in the burrows, and incubate them until they hatch. Every owl counts!
Also included are some baby pictures of Great Horned Owl fledglings. Owls are terrific parents, and foster pairs at WAH will take on as many orphans as you can give them! That way, they grow up knowing they are owls, and not people.