A Barred Owl in our Yard

By Dave Hanks

Barred Owls are quite large – 17 to 20 inches. They most closely resemble the Spotted Owl, except their white underside has dark streaking instead of dots. They have a bold, round head and the female is the larger of the two sexes. They prefer mixed deciduous/coniferous second growth woodlands. The Great Horned Owl is their major enemy. They are carefully avoided.

We first experienced this bird in Missouri’s woods. A resonant series of hoots, that some describe as sounding like “who’s cooking for you”, brought it immediately to our attention. I thought that it’s called faintly resembled a dog’s bark.

On an early December excursion to the mid-west, this was one of several species we were seeking. No luck! We tried calling it with our bird-call mechanism, but to no avail. The only picture that we had of this bird was in a cage – hardly a desirable background. Barred Owls are an eastern and northern species. It has been reported that their range is increasing, but the chances of us (here in southern Idaho) having a sighting is slim to say the least.

We were certainly taken by surprise on snowy day after Christmas! Carolyn spotted a large owl from the window of our front room. Thinking it to be a Great Horned, I rushed to get my camera & tripod. Sneaking up to a large maple tree by our driveway, I suddenly realized what I was photographing. Lo and behold – it was a Barred Owl right here in our yard. One of our Missouri goals met right here at home!

(Riding out a snow storm in our maple tree)