A Hoot of a Story in Longbranch

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I finally caught my feathered friend Ozzie the Barred owl with my camera Tuesday evening.

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Here is an iPhone snapshot of the handsome bird in June of 2012, when I began my quest to capture him with my camera.

I was finally able to snap a picture of the Barred owl that lives in our woods.

This has been an unfruitful personal quest of mine the past two years. The owl’s familiar “who’ll cook for you?” hoot has taunted me during my walks with the goofy golden doodle.

Not anymore.

“I’m so proud of you,” my lovely bride cooed.

Yeah, I’m pretty darn proud of myself too.

Although I wish I had a better story of how I finally caught up with my feathered friend.

I could have spun a tale about a long weekend in a bird blind eating sunflower seeds and quenching my thirst drinking rancid water from my neighbor’s pond.

The truth is never as sexy or manly — depending on your view of things.

Our Barred owl, strix varia, almost flew right smack into my windshield as I drove down our private road Tuesday evening.

That’s it.

End of story.

This was not our first time to meet like this. But it was the first time that I happened to have my camera gear stowed in my truck.

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Ozzie the Barred owl comfortably perched on a branch of a Cedar along our road.

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There are more than 3 million of these birds in North America, most of them in the United States.

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These sedentary creatures will stay in one area most of its life.

These owls are thriving in our neck of the woods. Shy and reclusive, they hunt mostly at night.

There are 3 million Barred owls in North America — 91 percent in the U.S., 7 percent in Canada and 3 percent in Mexico — according to Partnership in Flight, a bird conservation group.

These owls were mostly seen in undisturbed forest in eastern North America, according to allaboutbirds.org. Their migration westward did not begin until later in the twentieth century, after better fire suppression technology was introduced to control forest fires. The planting of trees in the plains of the midwest also helped the species’ move westward, according to the bird website.

Today, these sedentary birds have expanded their territory as far south as Northern California. These owls — who are slightly larger than the northern Spotted owl —are muscling out their rarer, less aggressive cousins of territory.

They prey on small animals such as squirrels, chipmunks, voles, rabbits and even small birds — up to the size of a grouse, according to allaboutbirds.org.

These birds are territorial and have been known to chase away intruders. They are prey to larger owls and hawks. Raccoons and weasels can be a danger to their clutch of eggs.

“We have to name him,” my lovely bride said. “How about Ozzie the Owl?”

Ozzie seems a handsome name for a handsome bird.

Well done, my dear.

Good morning Longbranch.

2 responses to “A Hoot of a Story in Longbranch

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