May 052017
 

Although it has been several weeks since hearing of any still around, Ed & Karen Heuvel reported to me a Great Gray Owl they had seen during the early evening on their property along the Ouse River between Cottesloe and Norwood on April 18,

2017. Ed says; “Huntng from a low snag, it seemed quite tame. After a while, it sailed across the road and came to land on another snag. In the dimming light, it’s white mustache marks were quite distinct.”

Stoney Lake and area

Broad-winged Hawks seemed to show some early arrival dates this year, with the first I know of seen on Stoney Lake on April 12th. They, Red-shouldered Hawks, Merlins, and Ospreys are quite abundant now in the area as they engage in their nesting activities for another year.

The first Whip-poor-will I heard this spring was one singing on the evening of April 24th near South Bay on Stoney Lake.

On April 29th, an Eastern Phoebe was sitting on a full clutch of five eggs in her nest atop a horizontal deck support beam at a friend’s cottage off of Northey’s Bay Road.

Stoney, Belmont, and Cordova Lake area

Northern Barred Owls are very vocal right now, day and night, and we are at the time of year when most of them will have young in the nest, (averaging about a week old). Typically, in this area, many lay their eggs about the 25th of March. Usually quiet throughout the incubation period, the males, especially, begin frequent hooting again towards the end of April. I wonder if that has anything to do with early social imprinting of their youngsters?

Tim Dyson

Barred Owl – March 23, 2017 – Sandy Lake – Susan

Whip-poor-will (Karl Egressy)

Great Gray Owl – Tim Dyson

Broad-winged Hawk – Wikimedia

Red-shouldered Hawk – Karl Egressy

Eastern Phoebe at nest – David Frank

Eastern Phoebe nest – June 7, 2004 – Tim Dyson

Apr 032017
 

On March 23 at about 5 pm, I used a hooting call to lure in this fabulous Barred Owl. To our surprise, a female also showed up. They quickly mated, and then hung around for a bit before going their separate ways. We were in the vicinity of Sandy Lake

Susan

Barred Owl – March 23, 2017 – Sandy Lake – Susan

Feb 162017
 

I had a Barred Owl show up the morning of February 12. It hung around for about 20 minutes before the Blue Jays started squawking at it. It sat there and watched the snowmobiles fly by on the nearby trail that runs up the side of the 507. It was snowing quite hard. The Gray Jays are still coming around almost every day!

Marie Windover, Flynn’s Corners

Northern Barred Owl – Tim Dyson – NBR 051214 -2

Feb 042017
 

I live in the Youngstown subdivision in Ennismore, just up from the causeway. I was reading your recent list of birds in the area on your annual bird count. You noted that no Barred Owls were seen during the count. About two weeks ago now, I saw a Barred Owl fly into a tree behind my backyard which, runs down to Chemong Lake. He stayed on that branch for about 45 minutes.
Randy Hayes, Ennismore

Barred Owl – Feb. 2017 – Randy Hayes

Jan 242017
 

At 4:50 pm. January 18, at the corner of County Rd. #2 and Plunket Road, I spent 20 minutes with this Barred Owl, photographing the bird from about 50 metres. The owl seemed more curious than scared. Given the paucity of owls this winter, I was very pleased to entertain this fellow in my lens. Originally he was on a tall lamp post but then flew down to an old post in the field , perhaps having spied a mouse in the grass.

Michael Gillespie

Barred Owl – Keene, Ontario – Jan. 18, 2017 – Michael Gillespie

Jan 122017
 

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Jan 11, 2017 13:03 by Iain Rayner
– Ptbo – Bear Creek Rd, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “10 feet from road in cedar swale after swamp.”

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Jan 11, 2017 10:00 by Matthew Garvin
– Peterborough–Millennium Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Sitting on ice edge”

Barred Owl – Jeff Keller 12 01 14

Peregrine eating Rock Pigeon – Loree Stephens 2 – Jan. 13, 2015 – PRHC

Dec 262016
 

I just noticed an American Robin in my backyard! That is pretty strange. Also, yesterday, on a walk we saw what a friend identified as a Barred Owl. And also some couple apparently captured a Common Loon that was struggling with the ice on a nearby lake and released it on the river in Lakefield, where it is still is. That may have been a juvenile that wasn’t strong enough to leave. Strange times!

Mary-Anne Johnston, Lakefield

NOTE: I had six robins eating buckthorn berries in my yard in Peterborough this morning. I also watched a chickadee going in and out of a bald-faced hornet nest in a tree top. I imagine the chickadee was feeding on the dead wasp larvae/pupae in the nest. DM

Bald-faced Hornet nest  Edmison Dr. - Ian MacDougall

Bald-faced Hornet nest Edmison Dr. – Ian MacDougall

 

Common Loon - Lakefield - Dec. 19, 2016 - Sue Paradisis

Common Loon – Lakefield – Dec. 19, 2016 – Sue Paradisis

Barrred Owl - Alex McLeod

Barrred Owl – Alex McLeod

Winter robin (Liane Edwards)

Winter robin (Liane Edwards)

Dec 232016
 

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Dec 18, 2016 04:00 by Iain Rayner
– PTBO – CBC Area 3 (Wedge from river to cty rd 4), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Responded to whinnying playback. In area near Water St N. Tim Hortons.”

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) (1)
– Reported Dec 18, 2016 04:00 by Iain Rayner
– PTBO – CBC Area 3 (Wedge from river to cty rd 4), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Calling at University Rd Wetland 4:10am”

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Dec 22, 2016 10:10 by Kyle Cameron
– CA-Ontario- KLT Blue Trail, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Dec 22, 2016 08:45 by Iain Rayner
– PTBO – Robinson Place, Charlotte St. at George St., Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Adult flew up onto the building”

Peregrine eating Rock Pigeon - Loree Stephens 2 - Jan. 13, 2015 - PRHC

Peregrine eating Rock Pigeon – Loree Stephens  – Jan. 13, 2015 – Peterborough Regional Health Centre

Barred Owl - Karl Egressy

Barred Owl – Karl Egressy

Great Horned Owl - Fleming Campus in Peterborough - Drew Monkman

Great Horned Owl – Fleming Campus in Peterborough – Drew Monkman

Eastern Screech-owl - Beaches area of Toronto - via Jamie Brockley

Eastern Screech-owl – Beaches area of Toronto – via Jamie Brockley

Dec 032016
 

We have a daily visitor in our yard at 18 Eldon Ct, just north of the Peterborough Golf and Country Club in Peterborough.  This Barred Owl comes to visit usually once or twice a day.  It is able to sit in the line of trees along Thompson Creek and spot its meals on the lawns nearby. It seems to ignore the neighbours’ dogs. Here are some pictures I took on December 2.

Alex McLeod

Barred Owl 2 - Alex McLeod

Barred Owl (2) – Alex McLeod

Barrred Owl - Alex McLeod

Barrred Owl – Alex McLeod

Nov 282016
 

Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) (1)
– Reported Nov 27, 2016 16:30 by Toby Rowland
– Peterborough – Little Lake, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S32761922
– Comments: “adult in winter plumage”

Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) (1)
– Reported Nov 27, 2016 16:30 by Toby Rowland
– Peterborough – Little Lake, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S32761922
– Comments: “adult in winter plumage”

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Nov 27, 2016 08:05 by Colin Jones
– CA-ON-North Kawartha-10987 Highway 28 – 44.7912x-78.1058, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S32744056

Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) (1)
– Reported Nov 27, 2016 11:14 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S32747660
– Comments: “probable female, but head not clearly seen; foraging 20 m in top of 25 m red pine with dying crown. Detected by soft tapping/scaling. On E road between old gatehouse and first crossroad.”

Barred Owl - Jeff Keller 12 01 14

Barred Owl – Jeff Keller 12 01 14

Horned Grebe (winter plumage)  Wikimedia

Horned Grebe (winter/basic plumage) Wikimedia

Black-backed Woodpecker - Wikimedia

Black-backed Woodpecker – Wikimedia

Red-throated Loon in basic plumage - Wikimedia

Red-throated Loon in winter/basic plumage – Wikimedia

Mar 172016
 

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Mar 15, 2016 23:45 by Scott Gibson
– 1_Gibson Home – Bissonnette Dr., Peterborough, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “continuing. giving clear tremolo, closer to house than on other dates.”

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Mar 14, 2016 21:00 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Trent University Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Area, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “called twice, both times briefly and from far away”

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (2)
– Reported Mar 16, 2016 00:05 by Martyn Obbard
– 67 Sumcot Drive, Galway-Cavendish & Harvey Township, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “1 initially calling. Heard while walking dog. Replied to my call. Then 2nd bird joined in; similar to ‘pair hootin’ it up’ track on Sibley app.”

Barred Owl - Gwen Forsyth

Barred Owl – Gwen Forsyth

Eastern Screech-owl - Feb. 24, 2015 - Michael Gillespie

Eastern Screech-owl – Feb. 24, 2015 – Michael Gillespie

Mar 162016
 
Barred Owl - Judy Watts - Big Gull Lake - Feb. 27, 2016

Barred Owl – Judy Watts – Big Gull Lake – Feb. 27, 2016

We’ve been fortunate to have seen a Barred Owl at our lakeside home on three occasions recently.  One evening after dark, it flew through our covered feeder and grabbed a flying squirrel with its talons. It took the squirrel to the deck, stayed there for a couple of minutes, and then carried its prey away, leaving a little crime scene behind.  I was absolutely awestruck!

Judy Watts, Big Gull Lake, Kaladar

Barred Owl on deck at Big Gull Lake - March 2016 - Judy Watts

Barred Owl on deck at Big Gull Lake – March 2016 – Judy Watts

Jan 312016
 

Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (12)
– Reported Jan 30, 2016 06:20 by Dave Milsom
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Feeding on spruce cones in Petroglyphs Prov. Park. All but one were female. Photos.”

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Jan 30, 2016 06:20 by Dave Milsom
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

NOTE: Dave also saw 21 Evening Grosbeaks, in addition to other species.

Male Evening Grosbeak - Wikimedia

Male Evening Grosbeak – Wikimedia

Barred Owl Feb. 8, 2015 - Television Road - Brenda Ibey

Barred Owl Feb. 8, 2015 – Television Road – Brenda Ibey

Red_Crossbill - male - Wikimedia

Red Crossbill – male – Wikimedia

Red Crossbill (Female), Cabin Lake Viewing Blinds, Deschutes National Forest, Near Fort Rock, Oregon

Red Crossbill – female – Wikimedia

Jan 292016
 

My Barred Owl is back. First time in months. At about 0730 it landed on a branch overlooking the feeder where there were a number of mouse tunnels. It kept looking down and then suddenly swept down and picked up a mouse from under the snow – a one claw pick – and flew off into the forest. It must have been able to hear the mouse, because there was no sign at the surface. Good winter bird.

Brian Tinker, Warkworth

Barred Owl - Brian Tinker - Jan. 29, 2016 - Warkworth

Barred Owl – Brian Tinker – Jan. 29, 2016 – Warkworth

Sep 222015
 

At 10:35 pm on Sept. 21 at Kawartha Hideway on the north shore of Buckhorn Lake,  I was out with the dogs and heard a bird which I figured was an owl. Checked my Peterson’s field guide… a Barred Owl. Hoohoo-hoohoo-hoohoo-hoohoo.. 8 accented notes in 2 groups of 4. Never heard one before… pretty neat.

Jane Philpott

Northern Barred Owl - Tim Dyson - NBR 051214 -2

Northern Barred Owl – Tim Dyson – NBR 051214 -2

Jun 212015
 

Last weekend I stayed at my daughter’s house on Northey Bay, Stoney Lake. A Blanding’s turtle was seen for 3 evenings in a row attempting to lay eggs in the driveway. Not sure if she succeeded as we came back to town. I counted over a dozen sunfish nests along the waterfront being guarded by the mother fish. It is so easy to spot the circles kept clean by the swimming of the fish because of the colour contrast on the bottom. A barred owl was calling in the evening.
This weekend camping at Silent Lake I also saw the sunfish nests and heard barred owls. Lots of veerys too. When we got home from camping we found a eastern red-backed salamander in the back of the van when unpacking. It now lives in Burnham’s Woods.
Sue Paradisis

Blanding's Turtle Rick Stankiewicz

Blanding’s Turtle Rick Stankiewicz

Veery - Wikimedia

Veery – Wikimedia

Apr 212015
 

Here some pictures of my weekend sightings of a Northern Harrier in the area of Hwy 28 and Division Rd and a Barred Owl along 15th Line of Smith and North School Rd.

Nima Taghaboni

Northern Harrier April 20 2015 Nima Taghaboni

Northern Harrier April 20 2015 Nima Taghaboni

BAOW April 20 2015 Nima Taghaboni

BAOW April 20 2015 Nima Taghaboni

Feb 192015
 

Yesterday, I was standing in the middle of a road, 15 ft away from this Barred Owl. He was just watching me and listening to some overhead crows. I stood there for over 15 minutes. He was practically tame!

Michael Gillespie, Keene

Barred Owl - Michael Gillespie

Barred Owl – Michael Gillespie

Feb 152015
 

My friend, Carl, and I were coming back from the Wolf Centre in Haliburton today and decided to travel down County Road 36, south of Bobcaygen, as we have come across a Snowy Owl along there before. Today we were extra lucky, as we happened to see both a Barred Owl and a Snowy!

Tim Corner

Barred Owl - Tim Corner - Feb. 14, 2014

Barred Owl – Tim Corner – Feb. 14, 2014

Snowy Owl - Tim Corner - Feb. 14, 2015

Snowy Owl – Tim Corner – Feb. 14, 2015

Feb 122015
 

This beautiful Barred Owl visited my backyard Wednesday morning (Feb. 11)  just after 7:00 and stayed until just before 9:00. A chickadee tried to get rid of him but it was the squirrels that managed to chase him off.
Sue Paradisis, Tudor Crescent

I had a Barred Owl near the dining hall at Camp Kawartha today.  Jacob Rodenburg, Camp Director

Barred Owl - Sue Paradisis - Feb. 11, 2015 - Tudor Cr.

Barred Owl – Sue Paradisis – Feb. 11, 2015 – Tudor Cr.

Feb 082015
 
Barred Owl Feb. 8, 2015 - Television Road - Brenda Ibey

Barred Owl Feb. 8, 2015 – Television Road – Brenda Ibey

On Saturday, Feb. 7, we had a Barred Owl in our yard. It was eating something it had caught.  Brenda McIsacc, Baltic Drive

On Feb. 7,  I saw a Barred Owl on Ackison Drive, near where the solar panels are at Lily Lake Road. I was my way to work and, of course, no camera except my phone!  Jeff Keller, Bridgenorth

Today, Feb. 8, I had a gorgeous Barred Owl visiting my yard. Interested in the other birds. Not me!     Brenda Ibey, Television Road

Note: Two other local people, Patty Macdonald and Joan Reilly Major also reported seeing owls near their homes this weekend. Appear to have been Barreds. D.M.

Northern Barred Owl - Tim Dyson - NBR 051214 -2

Northern Barred Owl – Tim Dyson – NBR 051214 -2

Jan 182015
 

A Barred Owl  hung out at the MNR at George and Charlotte streets  this afternoon ( 17 Jan 15). It was right outside the front entrance to the building!

Ernie Basciano, Carl Welbourn and Tim Corner

BAOW - MNR BLDG - Jan. 17, 2015 - Ernie Basciano

BAOW – MNR BLDG – Jan. 17, 2015 – Ernie Basciano

BAOW - MNR BLDG - Jan. 17, 2015 -  Carl Welbourn

BAOW – MNR BLDG – Jan. 17, 2015 – Carl Welbourn

BAOW - MNR BLDG - Jan. 17, 2015 - Tim Corner

BAOW – MNR BLDG – Jan. 17, 2015 – Tim Corner

Jan 032015
 

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Dec 28, 2014 13:00 by Susan Paradisis
– Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “was quietly rousting in tree while downy woodpecker flitted from branch to branch noisily giving alarm call”

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Jan 01, 2015 16:00 by April Anderson
– Quackenbush Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Gray Jay (Northern) (Perisoreus canadensis [canadensis Group]) (2)
– Reported Jan 02, 2015 14:15 by Martyn Obbard
– Apsley–Jack Lake Road Bog, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “continuing birds; 1 bird observed Dec 27 during Petroglyphs CBC; 2 seen Dec 30 by Scott Gibson. Played various playback tracks from Sibley app for 3 mins, then switched to BDOW track which attracted HAWO; then back to Grey Jay tracks; birds flew in from west responding to “typical harsh calls” track.

Barred Owl - Jeff Keller 12 01 14

Barred Owl – Jeff Keller 12 01 14

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park - March 2014

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park – March 2014

Dec 312014
 

The Petroglyph’s Christmas Bird Count, centered on Petroglyph’s Provincial Park, was held on Saturday, December 27, 2014.  Twenty-seven birders took part. 2717 individual birds were counted.

Number of species: 38 (Just two shy of the record high of 40.)

Species recorded in a record high number: Red-tailed Hawk (10 vs previous high of 8), Herring Gull (8 vs 5), Great Horned Owl (3 vs 1), Barred Owl (11 vs 7), White-breasted Nuthatch (233 vs 119)

New species for the Count: Eastern Screech Owl (2), Merlin (1)

First time since 2009 (previously annual): Gray Jay (2)

Also of note:  1 Sharp-shinned Hawk (2cd time on Count),  5 Bald Eagles (average), 48 Downy Woodpecker (considerably higher than average), 456 Blue Jays (high), 43 Red-breasted Nuthatches (very low), 1 Winter Wren (only 4th time on Count), 106 Golden-crowned Kinglets (close to previous high of 120), 48 American Goldfinch (very low)

Colin Jones, co-ordinator

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park - March 2014

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park – March 2014

Dec 212014
 

I have now seen nine different Barred Owls between Round Lake and Stoney Lake since the 5th of this month.

Today on my way home from Stoney Lake, I left a little earlier –  just before 3:00pm. Before I got home, I had seen four Barred Owls – two repeats from last night, plus two entirely new birds. First new owl was just about 100 mtrs east on #44 off of #6, (aka Stoney Lake Road), and was on the telephone wire. The next bird, was only about 200 mtrs past the first, (and although facing in the other direction this time), was in the same tree, and on the exact spot on the same branch as the night before.

I stopped for a while to pick up some firewood, and then on down #46 where I would pass the locations of three other recent Barred Owls. I didn`t see any there, so I had enough daylight to turn around for one more pass. Not long after turning around, an owl, (another that I saw last night as well), appeared on the telephone line. Stopped, photos, and drove on heading back north. I decided to go all the way up to turn around at Anderson Road which is east of #47 turn-off, and east of the North River bridge on #46. I just came over the hill west of Anderson, in time to see another Barred Owl fly into the woods there. There were two people in a truck pulled off, that had just spotted the owl before I came along. Owl #4 had sped off too fast into the woods, so no photo. But, it was a new location/owl.

I am guessing that the Petroglyphs CBC on the 27th is going to produce, easily, a record count for the species. I would go so far as to guess somewhere in the 15 to 20 Barred Owls range. I may try and take part, if not after mid-night on count day this year, perhaps the last two hours of daylight might be more productive for the owls. The little Screech Owl that has been roosting this winter in my box, is certainly within the count circle. I’ll try and record him for count day, as well.

Tim Dyson, Cordova Lake

Dec. 21st 2104 - Barred Owls - Tim Dyson

Dec. 21st 2104 – Barred Owls – Tim Dyson

Dec 192014
 

At 4:30pm today (December 18th), I had my eye out for owls once again on my way south on County Road #46, north of Havelock. At the exact spot, (though along the other side of the road this time), where I had reported the third Barred Owl of the day on December 10th, today it flew upwards from down low and came to land on a fence post. I drove on a little until I could get turned around, and I went back. Parked now on the opposite side of the road to the bird, I briefly checked him out.

This bird seemed quite nervous with me parked there, so once an approaching car had passed between me and the bird, I backed into a nearby lane and left. (I didn’t want to cause it more bother, and have it fly into traffic). As I had watched it for about ten seconds however, I did notice that it was very gray, (and was actually, quite a pale bird). I presumed it to be an adult, but I had to spare it closer examination with binoculars to be certain – it was just too upset with my being there.

Tim Dyson, Cordova Lake

Northern Barred Owl - Tim Dyson - NBR 051214 -2

Northern Barred Owl – Tim Dyson – NBR 051214 -2

Dec 112014
 

I had to go up to Stoney Lake on Friday, December 5th to see some friends, and with all of the recent Barred Owl sightings in that area, I figured I should keep my eye out for some while in the neighbourhood. Just as I was about to turn off of Northey`s Bay Road just west of Petroglyphs PP, I spotted one on the telephone line. I decided to check it out and maybe take some photos, but not until after a visit with my friends. About an hour later, I left, and as I approached the end of their driveway, there was the owl. It had moved about 50mtrs closer, and now sat just across the road, low in a pine. Very large, (as Barred Owls go), and quite brown so I assumed it to be an immature. This fact proved to be true, after close examination of photos taken at about ten mtrs. Interestingly, it turned out to be the very same bird that Jeff Keller had photographed and reported on the 1st of the month. It looked to me, very much like the bird in Jeff’s photos, and once I compared his photos to mine, it indeed was the same bird. In addition to a few very distinctive marking on a couple of feathers, it also had the same little chips missing from the tips of the same tail feathers, shown in both his photos, and mine. I e-mailed Jeff later, and he said that he had seen it in the exact spot that I described to him.

On to another friend’s place, and then I left there at dusk, (since I would expect to see more owls in the fading light of day as I made my way home). I wasn’t disappointed, as along County Road #44, and just north of County Road #47, another Barred Owl flew out and alongside the road a short distance. It landed, and although I took some photos out the car window, it was already just too dark out, so none of the pictures turned out. And then, for the hat trick, as I pulled up to my own driveway near Belmont Lake, a Great Horned Owl was perched atop the hydro pole near my driveway. Just after mid-night that same night, I was outside bringing in more firewood for the night, and heard the local pair of Great Horned Owls (GHOW) dueting. First I have heard of them this year. Sign of spring? In my books, dueting GHOWs is always the first sign of spring. (Although, I am well aware that first, winter must come, before thoughts of true spring would seem logical). The GHOW was there, on the same hydro pole at dusk, two nights later as well.

On Monday, a friend on Stoney Lake, (the one where the Screech Owl has been dozing away the daylight hours in my box), heard a small but noisy group of Blue Jays all around the owl box. By the time he got over to the window to look, the jays had already started to disperse. I told him that the owl had likely been poking his face out the entrance hole again, causing the jays to go over and bother him. Once pestered though, the owls will often retreat back inside the box. The jays usually just go back to what ever it was that they were doing, once the owl has disappeared.

Today, (December 10th) I was back up to Northey’s Bay Road again, visiting another friend. He asked me; “Whats with all the Barred Owls around these days?” I pressed him a little for details, and he mentioned four that he had seen in the past week or so. One, near Petroglyphs entrance, (perhaps the same bird discovered by Jeff Keller, and later seen by me). Jeff and I had both seen it at the same place four days apart, about 1km west of the park. Another, my friend mentioned, was along Northey’s Bay Road but much further west than the first. And, he saw two other widely spaced birds along County Road #6 (aka Stoney Lake Road), one of which was near #40 at the turn to Crowe’s Landing.

So, I left Stoney again tonight, (early dusk), in hopes that I may see some more owls. With active weather on the doorstep, I knew I stood a greater chance of seeing them, if there were many about. Also, with the increasing wind, most owls would likely be perched quite low. Well, about 1.5kms along County Road #44 right atop a fence post, there was the first Barred Owl of the night! I figured it may be best to keep my eyes on the fences, and maybe not so much in the trees. Within two minutes down the same road, and right near the entrance to the former Belmont Granite quarry, (now a Drain Brothers property), there was another Barred Owl sitting on top of another fence post! Well, on down the road I went from there and decided to zip across County Road #47, and head south down #46 on my way home. About 1km north of Round Lake Road, there was yet another Barred Owl, and again, on a fence post.

I thought of how much it all reminded me of looking for Great Grays when they are around – driving around at dusk, and looking for fence posts that look just a bit taller and wider on top, than the rest in the row. The first two owls tonight were quite “brownish”, (perhaps youngsters), but the third, it was just too dark to make out colours accurately. As I rounded the bend near my home, there on the same hydro pole as two other evenings in the past week, sat our old Great Horned Owl. I parked in the driveway and watched her a while. After a few minutes, she parachuted downward in a spiralling vertical drop, but seemed to come up with nothing, about ten seconds later. A short time later, she dropped again, only this time, pausing on the ground for perhaps half a minute. Then, she flew over into our neighbour’s field and out of my sight. I think she may have secured a meal the second time.

I would suggest that if a “Barred Owl irruption” is an acceptable term, then we may well be seeing one right now.
Never before, can I remember having seen so many in daylight in such a short period of time, nor heard of so many being seen by others, either.
Could it be a warm-up for a Great Gray winter? I would definitely not rule it out. Stay tuned, and get out there and count owls!!

Tim Dyson, Cordova Mines

Northern Barred Owl - Tim Dyson - NBR 051214 -2

Northern Barred Owl – Tim Dyson – NBR 051214 -2

Northern Barred Owl - Tim Dyson - NBR - 051214

Northern Barred Owl – Tim Dyson – NBR – 051214

Dec 022014
 

Of all the months on the calendar, November is the one that we can expect to see the most Barred Owls exposed and active in daylight on and south of the Canadian Shield in southern Ontario. I believe there are many contributing factors to this, and sometimes, they will all come together at once. And when they do, Barred Owls seem to be everywhere.

1) We do indeed have a healthy breeding population of Barred Owls in the Kawarthas, and especially on the Shield. By the time the leaves have fallen in mid-autumn, most locally-produced young have dispersed out of their parents’ breeding territories. So now, we have “more” of these owls around than we did before, (assuming that production of young owls during the previous nesting season was reasonably good). These younger owls are not so experienced, and through hunger alone, can sometimes be forced to hunt at dusk, and/or earlier in the afternoon and evening, (or during any time of the day, for that matter).

2) As is the case with all other raptors, there is an annual and roughly southward movement of young Barred Owls into and through this area from places further north, and so, even more Barred Owls will appear on the southern Shield, and southward at this time of year. If you are, (like I am), one who keeps up with the bird postings on the Ontbirds site, you will notice that nearly every fall, (and most often in November), that there is an influx of Barred Owls reported, from many southern locations from Toronto, Whitby, Brighton, eastward to Kingston and beyond, that have reached Lake Ontario.

3) It is also interesting to note that during years when reported Barred Owl sightings in southern Ontario in November are in higher-than-normal numbers, this usually, (more than 80% of the time), follows some of the largest catches of Saw-whet Owls during the same autumn season(s) at many of the banding stations that track their movements each October. (Although Barred Owls do use Saw-whet Owls as food when the opportunity presents, I am by no means suggesting that the former are “following” the latter into southern Ontario). Apart from voles, (which are used as food by all owls in Ontario), Deer Mice are important foods for both Saw-whet and Barred Owls, and it has been said in the past that when Deer Mice populations crash in the north, and in central Ontario, that these two owl species are recorded in the south in larger numbers in the fall and winter than they do during years when the mouse populations further north are more abundant and stable.

Something that I find of added interest to all of this, is that preceding each of the past three large irruptions of Great Gray Owls into southern Ontario (1995-96, 1996-97, and 2004-05) higher-than-normal numbers of Barred Owls were recorded in southern Ontario in November, and greater numbers of Saw-whet Owls were netted at banding stations in October of the same year(s). I will do a little digging, and find out from some of the owl banders that I know, and see if October of 2014 was in fact a bumper year in terms of large numbers of Saw-whets caught and banded in Ontario. How/if it may relate to Great Gray movements, (as it appears to have in the past), is unclear to me. But, if the past three large irruptions are somehow connected to earlier Barred and Saw-whet Owl movements, then maybe we`ll see some Great Grays later on in the coming winter this year. Perhaps there is no connection, just something that happens, and only looks somehow related.

It would be worth checking, (if the increase in Barred Owls continues in the coming weeks), how many are true adult birds, and how many are young of the year. This can be easily determined, (and I`ll try to post photos showing the differences later). If a Barred Owl is a youngster, generally, it will look not un-like any adult of its own kind. But, if you are viewing one at close range, and have a good pair of binoculars, a spotting scope, or a fine zoom on your camera, you can determine just about any first winter young Barred Owl, from an adult bird. It is important however, that you get a good view of either the back or one side of the owl, (and if you have not done this before, it may take some practise before it becomes routine for you).

First; most young Barred Owls are browner (and some, almost leaning towards “rusty”). Adults are most often decidedly grayer than the rich brown of the young ones. I am talking about the coloration of the head, neck, back, tops of the closed wings, and the upper surface of the tail. (Underparts show no difference among age groups to speak of). If the bird does have a rich brown, (or even rusty) look to the back as it is perched, just check what you can see of the secondary wing feathers and their greater coverts. If they appear to all be of an even tone, (with no feather appearing lighter or darker than the one next to it), then it shows that the bird has likely not ever moulted. Hence, a first year immature owl. If the bird seems grayer than browner, check those secondary wing feathers as above, and if you notice that in a random pattern, some are darker (indicating new feathers), while others are paler, (indicating older faded feathers) then your bird has moulted, and thus, is an adult, (or at very least, is a second year bird). The brown vs grayish coloring is not 100% reliable to determine the age of the bird, (as a few can be grayer in their first year, and there are some very brown adults out there), but it is reliable enough, that it is a good place to start. Most young are browner, and most adults are grayer,,,,, to put it simply.

Barred Owl with Winterberry in background - Tim Dyson

Barred Owl with Winterberry in background – Tim Dyson