The Barred Owl of the Pacific Northwest
Typical Barred Owl habitat consists of forests with some mature trees near open country. Their historic range covered the eastern half of North America, but recently the owl’s range is expanding into western North America, they are now breeding in most of BC and all of Vancouver Island.
We see them every year in the Campbell River area. Though this owl is basically a nocturnal bird, it is a very opportunistic hunter and will hunt even before dark. They tend to feed mainly on small mammals such as field mice, shrews, and deer mice. It also eats small squirrels, bats, moles, rabbits and mink. They often sits on a tree branch or any other perch waiting for prey and then swoops down quickly to grab its food. Aside from small mammals, the barred owl will also eat fish, frogs, snakes, lizards and crayfish. In fact, it is said that the pinkish tinge to its belly is due to the amount of crayfish that it eats.
When you hear the barred owl cry at night in the dark swampy terrain that they like it can be a awe inspiring experience. The barred owl has a large repertoire of squawks and screams and can even produce a barking sound. Small wonder that they are known far and wide as the crazy owl.
We have so many Barred Owls on the coast, we see them more than any other type of owls. One reason why we tend to see them more is that they will begin hunting long before it gets dark, they like to just sit in a tree and silently watch for whatever kind of prey presents itself. This of coarse, provides more opportunities to see and photograph them.