This past weekend was full of events. Nick and I survived our first St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, which has one of the top 5 largest celebrations for this Irish-American drinking and partying fest in the nation. We came home mostly unscathed, other than a few aching muscles, to bird another day. Fearful of the predicted afternoon rains in the area on Sunday, we decided to bird close to home. Well, it didn’t end up raining, of course, but we can’t complain because we enjoyed a beautiful day and had an amazing birding experience to boot.
We took a different route than our usual trek through the preserve, and it surely led us to one of the best sightings we’ve ever had. We went off the main path to a slightly open area where we spotted the Yellow-throated Warbler, along with a Black and White Warbler. And while continuing to walk through this area, I saw a large raptor swoop through a big oak tree. All I could see from it flying was very broad wings and a large body. I couldn’t quite pick it out from the brief moment I saw it flying. But I called out to Nick, “Raptor, raptor!” as I pointed to where I had just seen this hefty body fly. I didn’t see it continuing to fly, so I assumed that it must have landed in the large oak tree about 80 feet ahead of us. At first, I thought it might have been a Cooper’s Hawk since it was rather large and flying through the trees, but something just wasn’t right about that assumption. And as we approached the oak tree, Nick spotted the bird and called out, “It’s a Barred Owl!” I quickly and cautiously approached, and there it was! I immediately got the camera and started snapping away at this lifer.
|First spotting of the Barred Owl|
|Barred Owl in the shadows|
|Barred Owl peaking from behind the spanish moss|
I continued to inch my way closer until I was at a comfortable distance away and still had a clear and open view of this spectacular creature. He didn’t stir and wasn’t disturbed by our presence. He did keep a watchful eye on us with those large, round dark eyes that seem to peer right into you. It was an intense moment, to say the least. It was one of those few moments where a bird simply takes your breath away.
|Barred Owl in a large oak tree|
|Barred Owl notices something below|
|Barred Owl profile|
We must have stood there for at least half an hour simply soaking in the sight of this gorgeous creature. A lifer is always special, but a lifer owl always seems to be extra special. And what made it even more special was that we found him all on our own! We had expected that when we would first find a Barred Owl, we’d hear him with his distinctive call, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” before we’d actually see him, and probably at dusk or dawn. I never expected that we’d find this magnificent owl in the daytime and as he flew, especially since owls are silent flyers.
|Barred Owl taking a look around|
|Barred Owl - his eyes back on us|
|Someone is getting tired...|
The Barred Owl and we just stared at each other for a good while. Every once in a while, something would catch the owl’s eye as he looked at the ground around him. A little squirrel even ran across the oak branches right in front of the owl, obviously unaware of his presence. As much as I had wanted to see the owl go for a tasty snack, the owl wasn’t interested in dining. He was more interested in catching some zzz’s as his eyes started to close to go to sleep, making me love him only more as my heart melted for this sleepy owl. Nick and I, full of joy and satisfaction, finally pulled ourselves away from this lovely owl to let him have sweet daydreams.
|Barred Owl looking like an anime character ^_^|
|Awww, sleepy Barred Owl! (Notice one eye still slightly open to keep a watch on us).|