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A Winter Barn Owl


Winter is a rough time for wildlife, especially the barn owl. This year in particular we have had extremely cold temperatures, many nights hovering around minus 12 degrees Fahrenheit, and a healthy dose of snow which shows no signs of slowing down for the season. The barn owl under these conditions is forced to hunt during the daytime, searching the vast snow covered fields in search of mice and voles. They are able to hear mice under the snow and will dive into the snow to make their catch. Sometimes, as in the case of this particular barn owl, they can be observed roosting during the daytime, resting their weathered body for yet another afternoon of hunting.

I came across this barn owl a few days ago on a foggy, overcast afternoon and was particularly surprised to see it roosting at a time when I observe many other barn owls hunting during the day. I watched it for quite some time as it moved from roost to roost. After a couple of hours, it started to hunt late in the afternoon, too late for any decent photography to happen with the low clouds and resulting poor light so I watched and enjoyed the show until the cold drove me back home.

barn owl
Winter is a great time to observe and photograph barn owls.

The barn owl is definitely one of my favorite birds to observe and photograph. It rarely happens, however, except in these harsh winter conditions as barn owls aren’t as commonly seen during daylight hours the rest of the year. I am not a fan of winter by any means but watching barn owls and how they are able to survive in such harsh conditions gives me a great respect for them and all wildlife who have to endure such extreme conditions each winter. As I sit here the temperature outside once again has fallen to near zero degrees and I wonder how these magnificent birds handle such low temperatures. I hope spring makes an early appearance for both me and the barn owl.

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