Sunday, January 01, 2006

Looking for Barred Owls...

There is so much trail development in Pheasant Branch Conservancy that it seems like I discover a new bridge, boardwalk or freshly clear-cut area every time I visit the wooded parcel. It's so dreadfully fragmented now...compared with just only a few years ago. It used to be pretty easy to find Barred Owls in this particular section of the conservancy, but it seems to be getting more difficult as years go by.

I've also never seen so many people walking the trails in the middle of winter as I did today. Naturally, it is every bit as much a right for them to enjoy the conservancy as it is for me. I overheard one couple talking as they walked past me commenting how a new bridge connecting two dead-end trails was "a really good idea."

Before all the new trails were put in, I would quietly creep into the decayed woodland, way in the back part of the conservancy, and find the Barred Owls perched in the afternoon sun. Today I walked the entire length of the stream corridor checked many old spots I've seen them before but failed to find a single Barred Owl. Maybe I'm just rusty at finding owls?

I've explored the conservancy for well over a decade. Last year, for the first time in my observations, a Barred Owl pair nested in part of the stream corridor very near to Great Horned Owl territory. There are plenty of small mammals for both owl species to sustain themselves on, but I'd feel a lot better if owls were as easy to find as they once were. Hopefully they were there but tucked away...and perhaps I just missed them today.

(click on image for larger version)

Though birds were not very active this morning, I did see a fair number of species:

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Red-tailed Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
American Kestrel
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Shrike
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Horned Lark
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Barred Owl images © 2005 Michael Allen McDowell

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