Sunday 30 November 2014

Mortal Enemies

Nov 29/14 Boundary Bay. Sunny and cold -1c

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
There were two Barn Owls in a Cedar tree. I was told that one was male, the other a female. The one above looks to be the female and below the male. The pair were quite content being photographed from a distance through the thick foliage. The out of focus splashes of colour are from using the lens wide open. The term used by photographers is selective focus, the technique is very useful in bird photography when a bird is partially obscured.
After photographing the owls for a few minutes another photographer came and joined us but in his rush for a clear/better shot he approached too close for comfort and the birds flew the roost. Puns aside, no shot is that important that the birds are forced from their daytime roost. What bothered me is that the bird flew the past a tree inhabited by a pair of fearsome looking Great Horned Owls, who if they had the chance would make short work of the Barn Owls.

Barn Owls are uncommon. The lack of nest sites like older barns and older forests are fast disappearing.
The Lower Mainland's population of Barn Owls is being monitored to the extent that landowners reports birds in barns and elsewhere. Recently a nest with owlets were found under the old Port Mann Bridge while the structure was being dismantled. Those birds were transferred to care for a potential release later.

Barn Owls are found worldwide. 
A nocturnal hunter, it finds its prey more often by sound.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianis)

These images came at the end of a day that began on Sumas Prairie where we glimpsed a Gryfalcon hunting but not much else. The wind kept many birds hunkered down. A flock fifty Western Meadowlark was the other highlight on what was a beautifully sunny but cold day.

"It's never too late to start  birding"

John Gordon


  1. Beautiful shots I know exactly where you found the barn and great horneds as I have seen them there recently lovely images. Barns are one of my fave owls ever.

  2. Oh and shame on that photographer that disturbed the barn owls from their roost.