After the leaves fall in Autumn, it is so much easier to see what’s going on in the tree-tops. We can see nests that weren’t visible through the leaves earlier in the year, we enjoy watching squirrels jumping from branch to branch and are better able to spot the bright colours of blue jays, woodpeckers and other birds that over-Winter here in Muskoka.
We had a lucky meeting with a Barred Owl on a hike earlier this week. Being such large birds, they’re hard to miss - Especially this time of year with so few leaves on the trees!
We sat and watched each other for a few minutes, and the bird even allowed us to catch a short video before it flew off further into the forest.
This experience piqued our curiosity, which then prompted us to do a little reading to learn more about these beautiful creatures. Here are some fun and interesting facts in case you are interested, too!
Size: Length 40-63 cm. (approx. 16-25 inches) Wingspan 96-125cm. (approx. 38-50 inches) Weight 0.5-1.05 kg (approx. 1 - 2.5 lbs). Females can be up to 30% larger than male owls, but their plumage is identical.
Voice: The Barred Owl is said to be one of the most vocal owls and its call is often phrased as “Who, cooks, for you? Who, cooks, for-you, all?!”
Habitat: Deep, moist forests wooded swamps and woodlands near waterways. They are quite territorial and inhabit areas as large as 900 acres. Barred Owls are widespread in North America and Northern populations can be partially migratory depending on food resources
Diet: Consists of primarily small mammals like squirrels, chipmunks, mice, reptiles, fish and other birds.
Mortality: They have been known to live as long as 30+ years and the only natural enemies are Great Horned Owls, Northern Goshawks and occasionally climbing mammals such as raccoons or weasels will prey on their young. Most deaths are related to man (ie. shootings, roadkill etc).
Breeding: Breeding occurs between March-August. Barred Owls only nest once per year and lay an average of 2-3 eggs per nesting. Nests are often made in tree cavities, but abandoned hawks, crows or squirrel nests are used, as well. The female sits on the eggs (incubation lasts 28-33 days) while the male brings her food.The male continues to deliver food to the nest after the eggs hatch for about 2-3 weeks.
Young: Owlets are covered in a fine down and begin to beg for food just a few moments after hatching. They will leave the nest at about 4-5 weeks of age and will remain in the branches of the nest tree until they are able to fly (about 10 weeks). Siblings stay together throughout the Summer and strike out on their own in early Fall when the parents wean them from feedings.