Barred owls of daylight, by Andy Huff
One would assume that owls are synonymous with night. If your a
small ground dwelling rodent and you find comfort in the rising sun
believing owls avoid daylight.... your playing life’s roulette wheel
and eventually your number will come up. Few know about the daylight
owl that hunts the forests of Tennessee. Sure, they know it's name but
don't expect to see one active during the day. Many times I have
traveled up and down the Trace at LBL and every now and then have an
owl swoop low in front my vehicle giving me a scare! They have a
tendency to come quite close to the windshield as they cross.
Accidently I'm sure but I believe I understand why. Homing in on a
target they may have spotted, they glide toward it and get quite close
to the ground and sometimes have to cross roadways not paying
attention to traffic. Road edges become a favorite hunting zone for
many predators. Grassy areas created by road construction is a
favorite browsing place for rodents and larger mammals such as deer.
Predators like foxes, coyotes and snakes lay in wait for browsing
mice, moles and voles and rats. If you notice, red tailed hawks can be
seen on tree limbs nearly every mile or less of Tennessee roadways
during winter. That's where all the grass is and that's where the
small furry creatures feed and hide. And you can bet that somewhere a
barred owl is watching, waiting.
although active mostly during dusk and dawn, the barred owl is
active during cloudy days and even sunny days especially while rearing
chicks when it's busy hunting food for them.
Originally an inhabitant of eastern North America and central
America, this great owl has expanded its range westward. This could
be contributed through man made changes creating new and suitable
habitat. Their expansion may be partly to blame on the decline of the
Northern Spotted Owl, native to Washington, Oregon and California.
When Spotted and Barred owls share the same environment, the Barred
owl beats out the completion by being more aggressive. They have been
known to interbreed and creating a hybrid known by unusual names like
"botted" or "sparred owls. In 2007 the USFWS allowed for the shooting
of Barred owls to help protect it's spotted cousin.
Barred owls usually nest in a tree cavity or even take over an old
crow nest. Nesting here takes place in early spring with females
laying up to 4 eggs. Females brood the nest and the eggs hatch about 4
weeks later. Fledging takes up to 5 weeks. Adult owls prey on rodents
and even birds like grouse, hawks and doves. If you can imagine an owl
hunting a hawk, it certainly almost qualifies as an "apex" predator.
Turkey hunters know all too well the call of a Barred owl. They
purchase calls in sporting goods stores and use them to call up
gobblers in spring. Another local name for this silent hunter is "hoot
owl". If you can say... "who cooks for you", " who cooks for you all",
maybe you can speak ... Owl.