Hello Vermont Birders:
A flurry of posts on the Maine Birds listserv recently of Barred Owls being
spotted during the day prompted me to follow up on an earlier post. After
coming upon three Barred Owls during the day on a CBC back in December, I
became curious and posted: "Are we seeing an irruption of Barred Owls this
winter?" to the VT listserv. I asked for feedback and offered to collect
replies off-list and summarize.
My inquiry generated a total of five responses (four to the listserv, one
private). Two people replied, via the listserv, that they were curious to
see all replies and expressed concern over the idea of me collecting
replies off-line. One reply expressed gratitude for my offer to summarize.
The fourth reply (off-list) was a question about site fidelity and Barred
Owls on their property.The final reply was a link to the Massbirds listserv
where Marshall Iliff of the eBird Team had already queried the data and
outlined nicely a distinct spike in reports of Barred Owls.
Since mid-December, without specifically targeting my efforts in any way, I
personally have lucked into 11 sightings of Barred Owls in the daylight,
only two of which I think were repeats of the same bird. From a personal
case study, I am confident we are seeing an influx of Barred Owls. The fact
that they are hunting in the open in daylight is typically associated with
birds that are food-stressed unfortunately.
My most recent encounter started in my living room a little after sunrise a
few days ago. I looked out the window and spotted a Barred Owl perched in a
small tree along my driveway. I quickly grabbed my two-year-old daughter
and hopped in the car (both still in PJs). Using the car as a blind, we
were able to ease up to it within 15 feet with the window down and at eye
level. It was my daughter's first intimate experience with an owl. It was a
moment she will never remember and I will never forget.