As a wildlife photographer, I have had the incredible opportunity to witness and document the captivating behavior of a pair of Barred Owls at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. These magnificent birds have provided me with unforgettable moments, especially as I observed the adult owl caring for its fledgling. Join me as I share the story behind my encounter and the unique insights I’ve gained about these fascinating creatures.
The Enigmatic Barred Owl Pair:
During my frequent visits to the refuge, I couldn’t help but notice a Barred Owl that has become a familiar presence. Perched in a tree near the road, it diligently keeps an eye on a body of water located just across the road. This intriguing owl has piqued the curiosity not only of myself but also of my talented photographer friend, Mia McPherson, who hails from Utah. Mia has shared her observations and knowledge about these magnificent owls in a couple of enlightening blog posts, titled “Roadside Fledgling Barred Owl With A Crawdad” and “Young Barred Owl At Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.” It’s an honor to be able to show Mia the wonders of the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge and share in the excitement of our shared passion for capturing the beauty of nature.
Feeding Time for the Fledgling:
On one particular visit, luck was on my side when an adult Barred Owl swooped down to the water’s edge, deftly snatching a Crawdad with its sharp claws. The owl then promptly flew to a nearby tree. In that fleeting moment, I managed to capture a stunning photograph of the adult owl clutching the Crawdad in its beak before it disappeared into another tree, where the fledgling awaited its meal.
Barred Owls: Masters of Adaptation:
Barred Owls (Strix varia) are medium-sized owls native to North America, known for their distinctive pattern of horizontal barring on their chest and belly. These adaptable birds are primarily nocturnal, preferring dense forests and swampy habitats. However, they have successfully expanded their range to include suburban areas, displaying an impressive ability to adapt to different environments.
One of the intriguing aspects of Barred Owls is their varied diet. While they primarily feed on small mammals such as mice, voles, and squirrels, they are also opportunistic hunters, known to consume birds, amphibians, reptiles, and even crustaceans like the Crawdad I witnessed them catching. This adaptability allows them to thrive in diverse ecosystems and ensures their survival even when their primary prey is scarce.
Parental Care and Fledgling Development:
The sighting of the adult Barred Owl delivering food to its fledgling highlights the vital role parental care plays in the development of these magnificent birds. Barred Owls typically breed from February to March, with the female laying two to four eggs. Both parents participate in incubating the eggs and caring for the nestlings once they hatch. The young owls remain in the care of their parents for several months until they are fully fledged and capable of hunting on their own. Just days before capturing the awe-inspiring moment of the adult owl with a Crawdad, I had the privilege of photographing the fledgling, which had caught its own Crawdad—a testament to the growing independence and hunting skills of these incredible owls.
The Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma has become a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike, offering unique opportunities to observe and appreciate the wonders of nature. The presence of the Barred Owl pair and their fledgling has captivated many visitors, including myself and my friend Mia McPherson. These experiences serve as a reminder of the intricate web of life and the significance of preserving habitats that support the diversity of species.
Through the lens of my camera, I strive to bring the awe-inspiring beauty of wildlife to a wider audience, and the Barred Owls of Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge have provided me with invaluable moments to cherish forever. May these magnificent birds continue to thrive and inspire us all to protect and appreciate the natural world around us.
- Camera: Canon EOS R5
- Lens: Canon RF 800 mm F11
Technical Details: (First Photo)
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
- Date and Time Taken: June 23, 2023 (08:04 A. M.)
- Exposure Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f11
- Shutter speed: 1/800
- ISO: 8000 (Auto)
- Exp. Comp.: +0.3
- Focal Length: 800 mm