Nearly a dozen species of owls have been reported in the woods around the Lake, but all are listed as either uncommon or rare. Finding an owl in the forest is quite different from finding a mallard on the Lake or a robin on the lawn. Indeed, prior to seeing the Barred Owl in the pictures below, I had never seen an owl in the wild. And merely to find this one, I needed the help of an experienced and patient birder.

Most of the owls shown here were taken by other local photographers, but I recently managed to find and photograph a Northern Pygmy Owl, so that is progress.

Owls shown here are: Barred Owl; Northern Pygmy Owl; Great Grey Owl; Great Horned Owl; Northern Saw–whet Owl.

Barred Owl
Strix varia

barred owlThe Barred Owl (also known as the Hoot Owl) hasn’t always been seen around the Lake, or even in British Columbia. It began expanding its range into the Province in the 1940s and has largely replaced that long-time resident, the Spotted Owl; it also seems to outcompete the Screech Owl. The Barred Owl is just more adaptable.

barred owl in treeThe Barred Owl gets its name from the vertical barring on its lower breast. Its cousin, the spotted owl has, of course, spots rather than bars. Barred Owls hunt by waiting on a high perch at night, or flying through the woods and swooping down on prey: small mammals, rabbits, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.

owletA barely visible Barred Owl chick peaks out from a cavity high in a tree. It is the end of May and it will be some time before this owlet fledges. Its parents now spend a good deal of time feeding it; the detritus of this activity is found on the ground around the tree.

barred owl chickFour days earlier, this Barred Owl chick was in the nest cavity (above). Today it is out on a tree branch, but watched by its parents. It will be many weeks before it is on it own.

Great Horned Owl
Bubo virginianus

great horned owl chickA Great Horned Owl chick takes its first flight only to land on the roof of a truck. Garry Heuston

great horned owl chicksTwo recently hatched Great Horned Owl chicks watch from a tree. LVD

great grey owlA Great Horned Owl watches from a tree. LVD

Saw–whet Owl
Aegolius acadicus

saw whetThe Northern Saw–whet Owl is found in mature forests where it feasts on mice and voles.
Justin Arndt

saw whetThe defence of the Saw Whet Owl upon discovery is to sit still and not fly. This makes it approachable, but does not mean it is tame. Justin Arndt

saw whetThe Saw Whet Owl apparently gained its name from the sound it makes when seeking a mate: a saw being sharpened on a whetstone. This comparison is probably lost on most people these days. Justin Arndt

Northern Pygmy Owl
Glaucidium californicum

northern pygmy owlThe Northern Pygmy Owl is unusual among owls in that it hunts during the day, typically preying on small mammals, birds, and insects. Justin Arndt

northern pygmy owlThis Northern Pygmy Owl is probably in the third year of its life. It has already moulted the primary feathers on its wings, but not the secondary ones.

northern pygmy owlA Northern Pygmy Owl waits and watches from a tree.

northern pygmy owlA Northern Pygmy Owl has captured a robin and is eating it head first. Often that is all it these owls will eat. Marnie Lehr

northern pygmy owlThis is a detail from the image to the upper left.

Great Grey Owl
Strix nebulosa

great grey owl in flightA Great Grey Owl in flight.
Catherine Aitken

great gray owlThe Great Gray Owl. Catherine Aitken

Information from Wikipedia: Owl, Barred Owl, Northern Pygmy Owl,
Great Horned Owl, Northern Saw–whet Owl.

Fraser tartan