Barred Owl On The Bike Trail

On Saturday Non Birding Bill and I were taking advantage of the beautiful weather and the Twin Cities bike trail system.  We passed into a neighborhood and hear blue jays, cardinals and nuthatches going bonkers.  I took a quick glance but figured since NBB was with me, I might as well ignore whatever was being mobbed by birds.  Then I heard NBB say, "Got it! Owl!" I stopped, pulled over and saw NBB behind me pointing to a tree.  "Great horned?"

"No," he said, "I think it's  barred owl."

It sure was.  We finished our circuit and on the way back found the owl in the same spot but it was no longer being mobbed.  When we heard the blue jays earlier, they some sounded young and I wondered if the adults were using the owl as a chance to teach mobbing behavior.  Did the young ones lose interest when the owl didn't do anything?

When we got home, I debated about biking back to get a scope.  I have a system for packing up my Swarovski scope and camera, but the owl was in a residential neighborhood and I don't like to take my scope in those areas if I don't have to.  Plus, my thighs were putting up a bit of a protest.  I decided to go for it and figured the worse case scenario would be that the owl was gone and I'd get a little more exercise on a gorgeous summer day.

As I suspected, the owl was still there.  This is a well used neighborhood for bike riders, joggers and walkers.  This owl was used to roosting over people and not a lot was going to make it flush.

I aimed my scope, taking special care to never aim it at any windows or house and getting shots of the owl.  What a cutie--I even got to hear it call a few times.

The head feathers of the owl looked like it hadn't quite filled out with the rest of the body and there seemed to be hints of down.  Is this a young barred owl?  I took a quick look under the tree and found a pellet.  Just as a grabbed it, the person who lived in the home came out.  I hoped that I wouldn't have too much explaining to do and she smiled and asked, "Is the owl here?"

Whew--I wasn't assumed a bicycle perv but assumed to be a birder--yay!  She was really nice and told me that they had seen the owls all summer and that the babies even hung out on the porch rails when learning to fly.  Her young daughter came out and said, "The sat on the porch on my birthday!"

What an awesome birthday treat!

We talked bird a little bit and then I headed home suddenly aware that I was in my bike clothes, sweaty and stinky.  I can only imagine what my mother would say about doing sweaty stinky bird chat with strangers.

Relaxed owl toes! What a bonus for biking--a random barred owl.  I love the variety of nesting predators we have in my general neighborhood.  Birding truly can be done anywhere, even in an urban area.