Readers’ wildlife photos

September 14, 2022 • 8:00 am

Today we have some barred owl photos from Richard Kleinknecht. His captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

These photos, taken by my neighbor, were shot in King County, WA, less than an hour from Seattle.  Barred Owls (Strix varia), as do many other owls, mate for life (~20 years) and the pair shown in the photo have been nesting in or near my neighbor’s back yard for several years now.

Barred Owls take good care of their young.  Owlets will walk out of their nest in about 30-40 days after hatching, perhaps two months before they reach adulthood and can fly from the nest.  They climb around on trees using legs, talons, beaks, and wings for balance as they climb, and their parents bring them food until they are able to fly and hunt on their own.

Ever on the lookout for lunch, a Barred Owl has become aware of a Barn Swallow nest under the eave of my neighbor’s house.

The Owl has captured a Barn Swallow nestling (Hirundo rustica) and is preparing to swallow it whole, headfirst.  The Owl was seen, but not photographed, taking all nestlings, one at a time, and giving at least one to another Owl.

Barred Owls have a diet consisting of small mammals, other birds, and invertebrates.  They have been seen eating earthworms and slugs from the forest floor and we have a picture of a forager doing just that.

JAC: I’ve added a short video in which you can hear the call of a barred owl:

10 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. To learn the call of different species, mnemonics are helpful. For the barred owl, the call sounds like “Who cooks for you?”

    1. I just heard a bird call that I don’t think I’ve ever heard before, actually a pair of them seemingly calling to each other. But I couldn’t put into any sort of mnemonic, unfortunately. This was just after a hawk had taken something from the ground in the back yard. Wish I knew what it was.

    1. So very cat-like, Jamie!! That really hit home with me one time when my son and I pulled over in the car to watch a nearby Great Gray Owl on a fence post by the side of the road. We had interrupted its hunting and so it was quite distracted. It pivoted its head around to look at us, then turned back around to look in the grass below when the rodent would stir. Finally, it crouched, wiggled its hind end, and pounced. My son and I just sat there open-mouthed amazed at the similarity to how cats hunt.

  2. I live about an hour from Seattle, but alas, have never encountered or heard a barred owl. I actually didn’t know they lived around here. I’ve heard/seen a number of great horned owls, which are also beautiful birds. Maybe one day. Thanks for sharing these, they were a delight.

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