Barred Owl at the Bird Feeder

A Barred Owl stopped by the bird feeders much to the distress of the other birds. The blue jays were setting up a loud ruckus and since I was late getting outside to refill the feeders I just assumed they were letting me know that getting breakfast for myself first wasn’t something they appreciated.

I have the feeders set up so I can look at them through the kitchen and patio windows. I was happily making my breakfast and the chatter was filtering in through the windows. It was a heck of a racket and wasn’t stopping.

It wasn’t until I scanned the tree beside the feeder that I spotted the Barred Owl. It wasn’t trying to hide, simply perched on a lower branch watching the bird feeders.

The Barred Owl is quite well camouflaged against the grey branches, it was an overcast morning and that just helped hide the owl more, though the birds and squirrels knew he was there.

Most of the birds had cleared out except for the blue jays who were still busy sounding the alarm. The squirrels ignored all the warnings intent on confronting this interloper. I’ve caught squirrels harassing an owl on the trail cam before. This time the camera wasn’t in the right spot. I got out my trusted little hand held camera.

Both the red squirrels and black squirrels were after this owl. When you see both squirrels at the same time you can really tell how much slower the black ones are compared to their smaller cousins. The red squirrels darted and climbed up and down the branches and definitely taunted the owl, daring him to give it his best shot.

Owls understand their prey and while the red squirrel seemed much closer, the owl targets the black squirrel.

A Barred Owl Sitting in a tree near a bird feeder

Spoiler Alert!

If you like the suspense and haven’t watched the video yet, then you probably should right now.

There were two black squirrels. And more than one red one. The red ones are fast, they even flick their tails at the owl. They’re closer for a second or two and then they’re gone again. A black squirrel can’t match a red’s speed. He’s bigger and more awkward. One of the black squirrels makes a fatal mistake. The Barred Owl strikes and it’s all over in a second.

The other black squirrel did charge up the trunk but by the time he got closer it was all over for his friend. I slowed down the video and you can see the black under the owl, there was no sun that day, no shadow that made the black spot.

How Big are Barred Owls and What do They Eat

A Barred Owl is a medium sized owl, no slouch for sure at 43 – 61 cm (16.9 – 24 inches) in length. For people who are wondering, yes, Barred Owls will eat squirrels and small birds. Their main diet is mice but this one visited in February, hunting is more difficult in the winter and it’s not unusual for them to search for easier prey, and do it during daylight if they have to.

Barred Owl waiting for his prey to make a mistake

The Barred Owl won the day. Sometimes it’s hard to cheer for one over the other, but the owl needed to eat and survive.