I spent a good part of today watching a barred owl hunting from just a few feet off of a boardwalk at an Audubon Society property called Francis Beidler Forest near Charleston, South Carolina. Being an overcast day with rain threatening at every minute, the place was amazingly deserted.
The owl was perfectly quiet and though very aware of me, not bothered by my presence. It would look at me from time to time, checking me out and noticing me, but doing nothing to change its behavior. There were moments when I was less than twenty feet away, too close to use my 300mm lens.
What I learned about the owl is 1. That it obviously is not completely nocturnal. It was the middle of the afternoon and the owl was awake and aware. 2. Barred owls eat crayfish. In the twenty or so minutes I was watching, he dove down into the shallow water twice, catching crayfish. Both times he pulled up a beak-full of leaves and other things and both times a crayfish was there among the clutter. The owl discarded the leaves and ate the crayfish.
I hope wherever you were today you got to see something amazing…. Nature gives us great gifts everyday–we just need to be outside and watching in order to notice them!
Read my Creature Feature page about Barred Owls here.