Monday, March 19, 2012

Who Cooks for You?

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. 

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouce

We took a short drive down the road to a nice little local birding spot, Whitemarsh Preserve. We were hoping to find migrants since spring has sprung and migrating songbirds should be coming through. We had a little bit of luck with that, hearing several Northern Parula and spotting a single Yellow-throated Warbler. We also saw some of our regular visitors in this oak and pine forest - Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, and Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

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).


  1. Awesome! This looks and sounds like a jaw-dropping sighting, and you even had some nice titmice and thrushes for garnish.
    There's something primordial about those deep dark Barred Owl eyes, and this mossy old growth forest only adds to the somber effect.

    Hopefully she/he is a regular visitor to that spot--looking forward to more photos.

    P.S. I enjoyed your long-ago post on Durian fruit at your foodie blog. I noticed you hadn't posted there in a while and didn't know if commenting there would get through. I tried the stuff once with a high school buddy (intense hardcore kids we were). We both barfed. Supposedly after the initial gag it's the best thing ever. Nobody told the durian how important first impressions are then. Nicholas must be some sort of iron man to eat it, even in wafer form.

    1. I hope the owl is a regular visitor, too! We'll definitely have to check back in that spot to see if we can find him/her again. And thanks for checking out my foodie blog. I keep meaning to get back to it after such a long hiatus, but it's difficult to devote so much time to this blog AND another one! And I don't think I could ever get pass the gag of Durian. It's just not in me. And Nick will only be able to eat it if he is at least 10 feet away and/or quarantined. =)

  2. Congrats on this lifer! Barred Owl is my absolute favorite bird and I loved reading your enthusiastic post about seeing one for the first time. <3

    1. Thanks, Amy! I think the Barred Owl has become one of my favorites, too!

  3. Wow, the Barred Owl is gorgeous! Congrats on this awesome find!!

    1. Thanks! He was certainly an awesome find! I hope we can find him again.