Respecting Barred Owls

Yesterday, I had an eye-opening experience while photographing at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. I spotted a Barred Owl perched near the road, seemingly agitated. As I watched with my camera in hand, I realized the owl was preparing to swoop down at people walking nearby.

This location has a slough with a known Barred Owl nesting site used for several years. It seems the people walking were unknowingly getting a little too close for comfort, and the owl was simply trying to protect its territory. Luckily, everyone noticed the owl’s distress and left the area – myself included.

Barred Owl Preparing To Dive
Barred Owl Preparing To Dive

This encounter serves as a reminder that wildlife photography comes with a responsibility to be respectful of the animals and their habitat. Barred Owls, in particular, are known to be territorial and especially protective during nesting season. They might swoop down or even make physical contact if they feel their young are threatened.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Maintain Distance: Always observe wildlife from a safe distance. Use a telephoto lens to capture close-up images without disturbing the animal.
  • Read the Signs: Be aware of an animal’s body language. If a bird is agitated, puffed up, or making vocalizations, it’s best to back away and give them space.
  • Respect the Nest: Nesting sites are particularly sensitive areas. Avoid lingering near known nesting grounds, especially during breeding season. Leave Calls to the Birds: Resist the urge to use owl calls to lure them closer. This can be perceived as a threat and provoke aggressive behavior.

By following these simple guidelines, we can all enjoy wildlife photography while ensuring the safety of both ourselves and the creatures we admire.