My Unexpected Encounter With the Barred Owl
Last night I got home from work late around 10PM, and as I pulled into my spot in my apartment complex I was startled by a huge shadow that swooped down and landed in the tall bush in front of my 2nd story window in my apartment. I was on the phone with my sister, and the conversation when something like this:
ME: OMG!!! the coolest thing just happened!! This HUGE Barn Owl just landed in the bush RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!
Sister: omg, I don’t care. Why don’t you call someone who would care, like dad or something.
hmmm….great thought, dad WOULD care!
ME: OK, gotta go. I’m calling dad!
Immediately, I hang up with my sis, and moments later I’m on the phone with my dad:
Me: OMG DAD YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO ME!!!
Dad: SOMEONE PROPOSED TO YOU!?
ME: No, (keep in mind I’m not even dating anymore, so that actually would be unbelievable, so I pretty much disregarded him saying this) the coolest thing just happened!! This HUGE Barn Owl just landed in the bush RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!
Dad: Well it probably wasn’t a Barn Owl. It was probably a Barred Owl….
ME: OK, well it was huge! Like 25 – 30 lbs – wing span of like 3 feet!
Dad: yea…It was probably a Barred Owl. Barn Owls don’t come out in the open often.
ME: OK, whatever, it was a huge owl.
He was kind of missing the point of the excitement, but after I eventually agreed that it was most likely a Barred Owl, but I would “know for sure after I look it up” we were able to move on to the excitement of seeing this predator. My dad, who is just as obsessed with “being right” as I am sent me a link to a Barn owl and a link Barred owl within 3 minutes of getting off the phone. Turns out he was right…it was a Barred owl. Bravo Dad, bravo. Here’s my pic to prove my sighting.
What? You can’t see anything in that picture?! What the…OK, so my picture isn’t the best…stupid smart phone! But see those eyes?! even from a distance and in the dark, you can see this guy was a monster! I sat in my car looking at him for a few minutes, and then I got out. Partially to try to get closer to take a better pic, partially to go inside. Mr. Owl puffed up and cocked he head to one side looking at me, and then cocked his head to the other side…still staring me down. I figured it was a pretty good idea to hop back in my car because I was more than slightly afraid he was going to dive bomb me. Moments later a smaller bird flew out of the adjacent bush and Mr. Owl swooped in…he missed, and then flew away. All about 10 feet in front of me. It was AWESOME!
So in case my picture wasn’t a good enough picture for you to see what the Barred Owl looks like, here’s a pic I grabbed off the internet. Though my picture didn’t capture Mr. Owl’s beauty I was able to see him clearly while I was sitting/standing there, and he was so cute! So as you saw from my conversation with my dad above, I mentioned that he was really big, probably 25 – 30 lbs. Turns out that the average weight of a barred owl is only about a pound in a half…I guess there is really something to be said about hollow bones! In my defense, his body was definitely much larger than a football, so I was just assuming he was heavy because he was so big. But I guess it makes sense that something able to soar through the air is so light. I was correct about the wing span, though. The average wingspan is between 3 – 5 feet. You learn something new everyday, right?!
Barred Owls are known to perch while hunting, and most of the time opts for rodents like mice or moles. Given the 2.5 feet of snow on the ground, its not surprising that he was swooping in for something not buried: a bird! I wish that he did catch his prey because usually they will devour their findings on the spot, which would have been cool. The best part is that according to The Owl Pages, Barred Owls typically stay in a .3 mile – 1.5 mile radius of their home, so I’m hoping that he will come back and visit again. I will call him Frank.