High: 24° F
Low: -2° F
Conditions: snow showers with northwest winds.
I wrote about this same owl in a post almost a month ago, when it spent a day attached to my old ash tree. I called the post “Stillness,” because--more than anything--that's what the barred owl prompted in me. Now, as we lay in bed, we saw the same impulse in our dog.
It is simultaneously breathtaking and troubling to see an owl out of its nocturnal world. In truth, it’s probably a bad sign for the bird. Diurnal (or daylight) hunting usually indicates that a barred owl is food-stressed. This was common last year, when the collapse of a vole population in Canada sent a disproportionately large population of barreds south of the border. Scientists call this phenomenon irruption, and when it happens, it often creates a population explosion an ecosystem cannot support. Last year, an unusually large number of owls were the victims of accidents or starvation.
Owls this year haven’t faired much better. Fourteen days ago, a great gray owl (Strix nebulosa) arrived in our area.