Every once in a while, we hear an owl in our neighbourhood, but this spring we’ve also been seeing it. Most of the sightings have been just as dusk is approaching or after dawn has arrived, and the light’s been good. Yesterday we found castings in our yard—bits of bone and what looked frighteningly like undigested mouse feet.
The current giveaway for the owl’s presence is the scolding from the other birds in the area: this isn’t just one bird fussing, this is concerted and determined.
Today, for the second time this week, fussing started about 5:30 am, close to the bedroom. I crawled out of bed to see what I could see—and what I saw was an owl, parked on a limb at eye level about 15 feet from where I was standing. I got my binos and was able to confirm fine details despite blurry 5-am vision: yes, barred owl, Strix varia. The dark eyes are quite distinctive.
After a few minutes the owl drifted away. Sleep was gone, so I got up and started coffee. The fussing started again, so I took the binos and went outside. The owl was on a snag across the pond. A hysterical red-winged blackbird was beyond fussing, it was quite aggressively attacking the owl, it kept swooping down and smacking it on its back. I guess they must have a nest in the area. The owl didn’t seem overly disturbed, it just hunched its shoulders and then, to prove its contempt, started grooming its breast feathers.
It made getting up at 5:30 seem worthwhile after all.