Tyler - I'll match your worm-eating Barred Owl with a worm-eating Tufted Titmouse I observed 10+ yrs ago on a Schenectady, NY Christmas Bird Count in Dec. It had a huge night-crawler in its bill, gathered from the bare ground below. Many birds are opportunistic feeders...that's how some of them survive.
From: Tyler <[log in to unmask]>
To: VTBIRD <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sun, Apr 2, 2017 9:59 am
Subject: [VTBIRD] Vermivorous Barred Owl
I'm curious if anyone else on this listserv has observed this behavior in
Barred Owls before. I have found a small amount of literature on this, but
it doesn't seem to be a very common behavior.
My house has been hosting a Barred Owl every night (from dusk til dawn) in
an Ash tree in our backyard for over a week now. Sometimes it even shows up
before sunset. It is always there, no matter what time of night I look out
there, always on the same branch. I had assumed it was feeding on the many
rabbits and mice we have running around, but a few nights ago I started
noticing 'her' dropping down onto the lawn, where there is no brush or
vegetation anywhere nearby. I thought this would be strangely open
territory for a mouse to be venturing, and then I saw what she was after.
She was picking up earthworms. I've been observing her now and it appears
that she is specializing in hunting worms. Last night I observed a rabbit
feeding DIRECTLY BELOW HER (her perch is only 6 feet off the ground) and
she completely ignored the rabbit, flew past it, and returned to her perch
with another worm.
Has anyone else observed this vermivorous behavior in owls before?