Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Barred owlets

Last Monday, I got an email from my editor at the Columbus Dispatch, Cindy Decker, telling me of some special residents of her neighborhood. As she lives along a well-wooded ravine only fifteen minutes from my place, I buzzed over that evening, camera in hand.

It took no time at all to locate the hootiferous beasts - Barred Owls! Here, the male gazes inscrutably at your narrator. These owls, as we shall better see, are quite used to people and pay us little mind.

The female, who was perched nearby, curiously watches some people walk below her lofty perch.

As Columbus' neighborhoods, especially in the Clintonville area, have aged, so have their trees. In the last decade or so, forest species such as Barred Owls and Red-shouldered Hawks have become commonplace, especially in the heavily wooded ravines. Even Broad-winged Hawks are now nesting in some areas.

Yes, I know - he/she's cute! This is one of three owlets that the parents were supervising. I probably would have gone over just to see the adult owls, but when Cindy said that the owlets were newly fledged and clambering about the trees, I was there in a shot. Yesterday was Earth Day, and I was honored to be asked to give a program that night for Columbus Audubon. And thrilled when about 270 people showed up! I started the talk off by sharing this owl family, and as soon as I put up the above photo, the predictable "oohs", "aahs" and "cute!" comments commenced. I'm thinking, "you wouldn't be saying those things if you were a white-footed mouse!" To a small rodent, snake, or amphibian this owlet is a fuzzy Freddy Krueger in training.

As noted, the owls were hardly bothered by our presence. As I snapped this owlet's photo, it dozed off. When it snapped back to attention, it began issuing rather shrill keening begging calls, as were its siblings.

Word has passed through the neighborhood grapevine, and there must have been several dozen people that came by to see the owls in the hour that I was there. Everyone is quite excited to have them as neighbors. Lots of kids were in tow, and gawking at the owls, too.

I'm sure that while I was giving my Earth Day talk yesterday, many more people were ogling these Barred Owls as the sun dropped.

Barred Owls are great ambassadors for Nature - far better than most of us could hope to be. I hope that these owlets were the "spark birds" for some of those kids that got to see them.


kscalhoun said...

This is so neat! We live in the ravine and it's wonderful to see close-up shots of the owls that we glimpsed from afar at dusk yesterday, near the little boggy area of Walhalla.

Gaia Gardener: said...

Great photos of the barred owls - they really posed prettily for you! About a week ago, we were lucky enough to see one just before sunset on a fencepost about a mile south of our house, right along the road. We got the camera and drove back, capturing some nice shots - but nothing to compare to yours!

Anonymous said...

We should've hung around longer - my naked eye sure couldn't capture what your photo lens did. THANKS! Walkers by on Monday.

Jack and Brenda said...

This is great. So nice of them to put on a display for you.

Anonymous said...

Awesome pics of the barred owls. I know you like to keep track of wayward birds. I live in Marietta and for the past two days have had a male Dickcissel. I have pics if you want to see them email me at Lori