Birds of Celebration – Barred Owls

Barred Owls are the only regularly occurring owl in Celebration. Great Horned Owls and Screech Owls occur in Central Florida but are rare in our community. In Celebration, it is all about the Barred Owl.  Barred Owls are large, measuring on average 22 inches and weighing up to 24 ounces.

If you listen at dusk and then again at dawn you can often hear them calling. Phonetically it calls a loud “Who Cooks for You” repeated several times. It also issues a somewhat frightening ”AW ” call, loud enough to wake you!   They can sometimes be encountered on a shady path during the daytime and may call throughout the night on moonlit evenings.

Barred Owls mate for life and have a lifespan of up to 18 years in the wild. Pairs often serenade each other during the night, calling back and forth when they are a distance apart.

During breeding season, which is generally February to April, they are especially vocal.

Nesting in hollows of large diameter trees, they raise 2 to 3 offspring. When the owlets have hatched, the male becomes an aggressive hunter. Owls are carnivorous. Their diet consists mostly of mice, moles, rats and large insects.

Owls are special for a variety of reasons. They are the only bird with large forward-facing eyes.  They can fly almost silently due to special feathering in their wings. Their hearing is amazing, enabling them to locate prey by sound in total darkness. Being able to swivel their heads 270 degrees to either side without moving their bodies is especially intimidating!

The term “Wise as an Owl” is often credited to the ancient Greek goddess Athena. The goddess of wisdom; many paintings and statues portray her with an owl on her arm. A.A. Milne, author of the “Winnie-the Pooh” books also endows his character OWL with wisdom.  The 100-Acre Wood map is centered around Owl’s House.

 

By Chet Blazak

X