I first came across this young Barred Owl at the end of October deep in the woods at Presqu’ile Park.
Even after young Barred Owls leave their nest, their parents continue to feed them for many weeks. The challenge comes late in the fall, when the young owls are left on their own to hunt, and to find a new territory for themselves.
Over the last few months I have seen the little owl a couple of times sitting on its own in a tree at the edge of the forest. Though I often came across the adult owls in the park, I rarely saw the little one, so I always wondered how it was doing.
Well, today I found out the young owl is doing just fine surviving its first winter. I spotted it hunting in a field full of small trees and wet swampy ground, perfect for finding voles, its main prey.
The young owl’s hunting skills are incredible. It focussed intently on a spot in front of it on the ground, then silently flew down and grabbed a vole through the snow with its talons. Sticks and weeds precluded photos, but I got to watch it! I was down and sitting on the ground to take these photos. I guess it doesn’t matter that I went to my doctor’s appointment with wet jeans.
After fiddling a bit with the vole, the owl flew to another perch, the vole hanging out of its mouth.
It then proceeded to swallow it whole. That’s how owls eat their prey- whole. My friend has seen them eat snakes whole. That would be quite the sight!
There is no doubt that my little friend is doing very well its first winter on its own. What a great day it was today!