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Hiding in plain sight…

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Can you see it? It’s a barred owl, nicely camouflaged among the birch leaves in this tree at the bottom of my yard. I would have been easy to walk right past without spotting it. The bird stayed for a couple of hours one afternoon, long enough for me to get the camera, creep as close as I dared without spooking it, and capture its photo.

The barred owl is quite large, with round head but no ear tufts. It watches for small animal or bird prey with dark eyes. But it has to be on the lookout for the great horned owl, its enemy, and a species close to its size that inhabits the same forested areas. The barred owl is widespread in eastern North America, but its range has expanded to cover the eastern part of BC.

This is the owl whose call is thought to sound like, ‘Who cooks for you….who cooks for you-all’. And it does! We camped overnight in Allegany State Park in New York state during a fall trip east, and in the evening, that very call echoed through the woods. We didn’t see the owl, but we didn’t have to. No mistaking that line of dialogue!

On a more recent trip, we stayed at an RV park on Bainbridge Island in Washington state. It was evening, again, and we heard an agitated ‘barking’ sound followed by several hoots that ended with that familiar phrase, ‘you-all’. Sure sounded like a barred owl…and next thing we knew it had flown to the edge of the wooded area. It perched right above us. What a great sighting, right outside our trailer door!

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