There’s a pair of Barred Owls in the Sugar Bush down the road from me. For the third year that I know of, they have raised a beautiful family in this old forest. Here’s one of the owlets from this year!
The parents start to call loudly to each other in the sugar bush in March, just as maple syrup time is rolling full tilt. The sugar bush is a mixed hardwood forest, with lots of sugar maples, as well as hemlocks, swampy areas, and old dead beech trees like the one they use for their nest.
Timings have varied from year to year, but this year the mother sat on the eggs in the nest for the month of April, looked after the babies for a few weeks in early May with help from the dad, and then the little owls came out of the nest in late May.
I was quite surprised how early the owlets came out this year. When I went into the woods for only the second time in May to check the nest, there was already an owlet out, climbing around in the hemlock tree next to the nest.
I don’t think I would have known it was there if I hadn’t heard it quietly screeching for food, as they do all day unless they are sleeping!
Owlet number two was in a tree not far away. They always see me before I see them.
This little one could barely keep its eyes open, and kept falling asleep. It’s hard being a baby owl. They don’t fly yet, and move around by climbing around in the trees using their beaks and talons. At this stage of development they are called “branchers.” They begin to fly short distances on their own in a couple more weeks.
The morning after I found the owlets, I got quite a surprise as I was walking my dog. An owlet was sitting in a tree right by the side of the road. Luckily our road is not very busy, and the owl was pretty high up the tree.
Regardless, I got a chance to take a great look at the little owl without being in the sugar bush, which, as much as I love it, is full of biting insects.
Later in the day, the owlet had moved back into the woods. And though I heard the little ones calling, and the parents hooting, I never saw the owlets again this year. We went away on a trip, and when we got back the owlets would be flying around quite well on their own.
I am so happy that our neighbourhood Barred Owls are such great parents. We sometimes hear owls hooting as we walk, or when we sit out at night. Not sure which ones they are, but they probably started off their lives in the sugar bush.
For more on this owl family over the years, see my posts from:
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