Readers’ wildlife photos

We have a first-time contributor today: reader Bob Jochums, who sends us Honorary Cats™ in the form of owl photos. His notes are indented:

We’ve had some success getting barred owls (Strix varia) to use a nesting box when it’s mounted fairly close to our home.  Even though we’ve got an acre plus of nicely forested land, we’ve attached the nest to a big pine so that we can see it, and what’s happening in it, from our sunroom.

This year our owl adults had a solo owlet so we named him (and yes, we don’t know it’s a “him”) Han, as in Han Solo.  Today was fledging day.  Early this morning he was on the landing branches on the face of the nesting box and then on the roof.  A couple hours later he had fledged and was on the metal railing leading down toward the backyard/forest.  After resting there a bit, he started attempting to climb trees and was successful after several attempts (couldn’t get going on a birch, got about 20 feet up a shagbark hickory which is about 12 inches in diameter before he lost his grip, and then got up a skinny tree that was leaning against a larger maple with limbs that were pretty much horizontal).  The final picture shows him on a nice perch after being joined by his mother.

All pictures were taken on May 19.

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I asked Bob how a young owl could possibly climb up a tree. He responded and sent photographic proof:

When barred owl owlets leave the nest, their flying skills are rudimentary and often not very successful so they often end up on the ground or maybe in a bush  They’ve got to get back up in a tree where they’re safer from predators.  Here’s a picture of Han climbing a large tree yesterday. Owls use their talons and beak to grasp onto the bark and by flapping their wings, they walk their way up the trunk.  It’s quite a sight.

Indeed!

10 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 21, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Today I Learned(TM)!

  2. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 21, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Very good! Owls will often seem to have an amusing expression on their faces, and to me the chick seems to have a rather indignant look.

  3. Barb
    Posted May 21, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Wonderful pictures! I love barred owls and have been trying unsuccessfully to take pictures of them for years. Their distinctive cries often wake me up at night. A couple of years ago we had two fledglings sitting in a tree near our house crying for two nights. Not understanding what they were up to, I called Wild Arc (our local wild animal shelter) and was told they were fine. It took a few days of them hopping from branch to branch, then taking short flights between trees before they were finally off flying around with the adults.

  4. rickflick
    Posted May 21, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I remember an article about birds climbing up steep inclines some time ago. The idea was that this may have been how birds first started flying. Wing-assisted incline running.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e81J915TEXg

  5. Karen Bartelt
    Posted May 21, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I would love to try this next year, because I know there are barred owls in the woods behind my house. Where are you located? (Generally, not an address)

  6. Debbie Coplan
    Posted May 21, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I so enjoyed these photos. That mom and chick picture is really a hoot. Their expressions are so funny….and the chick climbing is wonderful.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted May 21, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Han is a cutie! If you hadn’t told me the chick was climbing that tree, I would have had no idea what the heck it was doing.

  8. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 21, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    What wonderful pics! I love owls. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  9. Bruce Lyon
    Posted May 21, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Lovely photos. Lucky you to have barred owls nesting right beside your house. As a teenager in Montreal my friends and I used to scour the woods of nearby Mt St Bruno for barred owl nests in natural cavities. They were pretty hard to find. Great bird.


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