This easily recognized call can often be heard echoing through our darkened wetlands and woodlands and now it can be more frequently heard at New Pond Farm.
Meet our newest resident, Bernard the barred owl. Sadly, he had an encounter with a pickup truck and now has a permanently injured shoulder. Bernard has only been with us for a few weeks and we are doing our best to make him comfortable in his new surroundings. He has moved into the spacious flight cage that was built several years ago by Chris Ahlberg and his friends as an Eagle Scout project.
Kristen, Dona and I have been taking turns feeding and visiting with him each day. When time permits we have been bringing our paperwork out to the enclosure – actually most of this newsletter was written with Bernard sitting just a few feet away. He seems to be getting quite used to us, he no longer fluffs out his feathers or claps his beak when we enter. Hopefully before too much longer he will allow us to get even closer, and maybe someday he will feel comfortable enough to join our programs.
He will be a fascinating guest and will teach all of us about animal adaptations — he is a wonder to behold.
Barred owls have a large facial disc with thousands of small, finely divided feathers that are designed to direct sounds to the uneven ear openings on the sides of their head. Their tremendous brown eyes are located on the front of their face giving them binocular, or three-dimensional vision. Their fringed, soft-edged flight feathers give them the advantage of silent flight so they can surprise their prey, and their powerful razor-sharp talons and beak allow them to capture and eat all manner of creatures. Barred owls are opportunistic hunters, dining on everything from small skunks, opossums, and flying squirrels to meadow voles, frogs, fish, and crickets.
If you live near a woodlands, which includes wetlands, you may have barred owls as neighbors — each pair likes to have a territory that can range up to one square mile. By day they like to sit high in the trees, their light gray and brown barred feathers provide excellent camouflage. They are often seen flying from dusk to dawn but their presence is usually known by their distinctive and sometimes raucous calls.