One late February afternoon, after a light snowfall, I happened to look out the window and there perched in a tree was a Barred Owl! This large (16 to 20 inches in height) owl is brown on its head and back with white bars mottling its plumage. Its belly is pale with brown streaks. Barred owls have a round head (no ear tufts), dark eyes, and, if you get a close enough look through binoculars or a camera, you’ll see its yellow beak. They have a distinctive call that sounds something like, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" It’s not very hard to imitate the call once you’ve heard it a few times. While I was standing outside snapping images of the owl, my husband opened a window and started hooting at the owl! The bird merely looked in his direction probably wondering who the imposter was that was making such a racket.
I’ve assumed Barred Owls were common throughout the state, but, after reviewing the Birds of Massachusetts, was surprised to learn that Barred Owls are rarely seen on the Cape and Islands. The Barred Owl is one of the few owls which can be seen hunting both during the day and night, perching on a branch, patiently looking for a small mammal such as a mouse or rabbit to catch on the ground. This bird I was watching was very patient, I kept checking the tree every 20 minutes or so and nearly two hours later, he was still perched there and stayed until it was too dark for me to see!
For the distinctive call and other interesting facts about Barred Owls, go to the All About Birds website hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Birds of Massachusetts, Authored by Veit, R.R. and W.R. Petersen in 1993. This book is available for purchase through the Massachusetts Audubon Society and is an excellent reference about birds that are found in the Bay State.
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April posted on May 14
A lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. Photo by David Cawston April’s contest winner was David Cawston who photographed a spring lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. The Cummings School of …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March posted on Apr 23
Girard’s Sugarhouse in Heath, MA. The sugarhouse was built in 1887 and produces around 250-300 gallons of syrup annually. Photo by Michael Girard March’s contest winner was Michael Girard who photographed his family’s sugarhouse in Heath. Michael Girard has been a sugarmaker since 1961 when he …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February posted on Feb 25
February’s contest winner was Amanda Bettle, who photographed sheep at The Natural Resources Trust of Easton. This photo features Dog, a former 4-H show animal and sole male sheep among the nine ewes in the Natural Resources Trust of Easton (NRT) flock. It is the mission …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February