Who…who…who is that hooting in the forest? Now is a great time to hear Barred Owls. From late February to early April, these chatty birds are looking for mates, which means they are more likely to be perched on tree limbs and hooting during the day.
You can identify a barred owl by its round head, dark eyes and vertical brown streaks across the belly. Although Barred Owls are most active during nighttime, they still hunt and call during the day. Listen for hooting that sounds like “Who cooks for you; Who cooks for you all?” In addition to this call, the Barred Owl has a variety of vocalizations from hoots to barks, and screams to laughter.
Barred Owls make their nests in deciduous tree cavities or abandoned nests of hawks or crows. Barred Owl chicks hatch from pure white eggs with their eyes shut and covered in whitish-brown feathers. Four to six weeks after hatching, the young owls fledge, which means they have matured enough to fly. As adults, Barred Owls can reach 20 inches in length with wingspans of up to forty-three inches! Barred Owls live in mature forests, preferring areas near water. They are found throughout the Eastern United States and the Pacific Northwest.
Your best chance of hearing or seeing (if you’re very lucky) a Barred Owl is on the Rock Point and Arms Forest trails east of the bike path, where a few of these feathered forest-dwellers have been spotted in recent years. Do keep in mind that owl breeding season is also slippery trails season! Please be careful and use traction devices (e.g. Yaktrax or microspikes) to increase your stability on ice-covered trail sections.
The Lake Champlain Land Trust is the conservation partner of the Rock Point Sanctuary. The Land Trust holds the conservation easements permanently protecting the natural, scenic and recreational resources of the Rock Point land. The Lake Champlain Land Trust is a member-supported, non-profit organization working with you and your community since 1978 to save land, conserve places to hike and paddle, and protect Lake Champlain's water quality. For more information and local places to explore nature, visit our website (www.lclt.org).
Photo credit: BlackDogInn photo courtesy Lake Champlain Land Trust