Barred Owls: What Makes Them Great Hunters?

Barred Owl sitting on a tree branch looking downwards

Encountering Owls

Barred owls are pretty common in Eastern Canada but they are difficult to spot because of their plumage which acts as excellent camouflage. You are more likely to hear them than to see them. Their call is very distinct. It sounds like they are saying, “who-cooks-for-you? who-cooks-for-you-all?”

I was very fortunate that this owl made itself known to me. It landed in a tree directly in front of me and sat on a branch observing me for about 10 minutes before flying away. It’s hard to describe the feeling during these encounters but it’s one of deep gratitude and calm.

What Makes Barred Owls Such Great Hunters?

Owls are birds of prey. Also called predators or raptors. This means that they hunt and kill other animals for food. Their amazing eyesight and hearing make them well adapted for this task. The barred owl hunts voles, salamanders, rabbits, mice, birds, squirrels, chipmunks, insects, shrews, earthworms, moles, minks, snakes, and sometimes fish!

Eyesight

Owls hunt at night and their eyes are well adapted to see even the smallest prey in the dark. This is because their eyes contain more rod cells than ours which help them to detect more light and movement. They also have a third eyelid called a “nictitating membrane.” This eyelid is translucent and helps to protect and moisten the eye without ever having to disturb their line of sight.

Hearing

They also have asymmetrical ears! One is located near the base of their neck and the other is above the eye. This allows the barred owl to precisely locate their prey by triangulating its position.

If you are looking to get close to nature and increase your likelihood of seeing wildlife, check out my post on Nature Sit-Spots.

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