This morning, while eating breakfast, I looked up through our half-moon Palladian window to find a barred owl perched on a branch of the big beech tree. It's a very, very cold day--single digit temperatures--and like all the birds he had his feathers fluffed out, making him appear even more massive.
The blue jays, who were zooming in to retrieve the cracked corn and bread I'd flung out onto the snow, continually flew up to the place where the owl was sitting. Some of them almost bumped into him. He was unperturbed. This picture of jay and owl shows the size difference.
He remained in place for a full hour. Sometimes his eyes were closed. At one point he bent his head and coughed up--well, I'm not sure what, but most likely the body parts of whatever unlucky rodent he'd eaten for breakfast.
We hear owls often in our woods, especially on summer nights. They cry back and forth to one another--"hoo! hoo! hoo! hoo! hoo!" repeatedly. Our husky Lola, who occasionally needs to go out in the middle of the night, talks back to them, following the same pattern--"woof! woof! woof! woof! woof!" They pick up the refrain. We lie in bed, giggling.
The barred owl is the most common owl in our part of New England, and loves woodlands near water, which is why they're so familiar to us here at the Lodge. It hunts nocturnally--rodents (mostly mice), frogs, and birds) but is sometimes visible in the daytime.
Eventually something caught the owl's attention.
He turned his body away from the house and towards the woods, and hunched over, watching intently.
Suddenly he flew into the trees. I expected him to snatch up the little red squirrel running up and down a hemlock trunk. But he didn't.