As a wildlife photographer, every moment spent in nature is filled with anticipation and wonder. On a memorable day, June 23, 2023, I had the pleasure of hosting my talented friend and fellow photographer, Mia McPherson from Utah, on an enchanting expedition to the picturesque Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. Little did we know that our journey would be graced by the presence of a magnificent Barred Owl, offering us a captivating photo opportunity we couldn’t resist.
Driving over the bridge near the refuge’s entry to the tour road, our eyes scanned the surroundings in hopes of spotting the refuge’s diverse wildlife. Suddenly, Mia’s keen eyes caught sight of a Barred Owl perched regally above the water, framed by a backdrop of lush reeds. Our excitement soared, and we eagerly prepared our cameras, ensuring we didn’t miss the chance to capture the owl’s beauty forever.
A Master of the Night: The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a striking bird of prey known for its distinctive hooting calls and its captivating appearance. Found throughout North America, from the eastern United States to the Pacific Northwest, this medium-sized owl species thrives in a variety of habitats, including forests, swamps, and wooded areas near water sources like the one we encountered.
Unique Facts about the Barred Owl:
- Feathery Facial Disc: One of the most distinguishing features of the Barred Owl is its facial disc. Comprised of feathers arranged in a circular pattern around its eyes, this disc acts as a sound collector, helping to amplify and direct sounds towards the owl’s ears. This adaptation enables the Barred Owl to detect even the faintest rustles of prey, ensuring a successful hunt.
- Remarkable Adaptability: Unlike many owl species, the Barred Owl has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to different environments. While it primarily hunts small mammals like mice and voles, it has been known to opportunistically feed on a wide range of prey, including birds, amphibians, reptiles, and even fish. This adaptability allows the Barred Owl to thrive in various ecosystems and ensures its survival in changing environments.
- Nocturnal Hunter: As a nocturnal species, the Barred Owl is most active during the night. Its excellent low-light vision and acute hearing enable it to navigate through dense forests and locate prey even in complete darkness. Its silent flight, aided by specialized feathers that muffle sound, allows the owl to approach its prey undetected, making it an efficient and stealthy hunter.
Encounters with magnificent creatures like the Barred Owl are cherished moments in the life of a wildlife photographer. The Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge proved to be a sanctuary where nature’s wonders unfolded before our lenses. The Barred Owl, with its commanding presence and mysterious allure, captured our hearts and inspired us to share this extraordinary photograph. May these glimpses into the wild remind us of the beauty that surrounds us and the importance of preserving the natural world for generations to come.
- Camera: Canon EOS R5
- Lens: Canon RF 800 mm F11
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
- Date and Time Taken: June 23, 2023 (08:40 A. M.)
- Exposure Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f11
- Shutter speed: 1/400
- ISO: 6400 (Auto)
- Exp. Comp.: +0.7
- Focal Length: 800 mm