Barred Owls

Jamie Acker biowler1 at juno.com
Sat Jun 9 09:18:32 PDT 2001


Bill & Tweeters

Barred Owls are not something to be "thrilled" about in the Pacific
Northwest, maybe unless you also like English Ivy.

The species is taking over the PNW. I have witnessed, from the first
sighting on Bainbridge Island in 1993, to present, an increase from one
individual to 23+ birds. At the same time, human population has
increased from 15K to 20K. To be suceessful, the species has displaced
other species, as well as to fill an open niche created by the human
population. The Western Screech Owl population here on the Island has
taken a downward plunge, while the Great-horned Owl population had taken
the same course until this year.

Barred Owls eat almost anything smaller than them that moves, and since
during the breeding season they are diurnal as well as nocturnal, they
have a large prey base. This year I have found a young oppossum in a
nest, for a first. 'Possums used to be uncommon on the Island. The
typical fare of Barred Owls is rats and crows, both of which have fared
well with humans.

More importantly than to Bainbridge Island, the Barred Owl is an
extremely serious threat to the Spotted Owl here in the PNW. The Barred
Owl requires about 25% of the range that a Spotted Owl requires due to
its larger prey base, and will accept virtually the same habitat. In
engineering terms, this makes the Barred Owl 4x as efficient as a
Spotted Owl. Efficiency will prevail in the long term.

So, when you hear the call of the Barred Owl, know that something has not
been gained, but lost from your environment.

Incidently, the hoo-hoo-HOO-awww call, sometimes just "HOO-awww"
(different from the "traditional call") is generally given from a bird
that has been angered or trespassed, or is asserting territory. The
traditional " Who cooks for you, who cooks for youall" is primarily used
earlier in the season prior to eggs being laid. Barred Owls are just now
starting to become more vocal as the young have been fledged for several
weeks. They will respond with the traditional call now.

Jamie Acker
Bainbridge Island
BIowler1 at juno.com

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