Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jersey Girl

This month I am excited to introduce you to a very special owl that has a very curious behavior and a great voice!

This special bird’s name is Jersey and she is a Barred Owl.  Jersey is a rescue bird that was hatched in the wild.  She came to WBS in 2011 as an adult, therefore we are unsure of her exact age.

Jersey, the Barred Owl

At the beginning Jersey was not vocal at all, but as she got better she began to make hoot after hoot after hoot.  I can remember when I first heard her vocalize.  It was such an amazing event because she has such a beautiful voice (at least in my opinion).

The Barred Owl (Strix varia) gets its name from the barring on the wing, tail, and belly feathers.  These beautiful owls are native to North America, more specifically the midwest to the east coast, middle range of the southern Canadian provinces, and small parts of Mexico.  They are found in forested areas with access to waterways.  If you look below you can see a beautiful wild Barred Owl.

A wild Barred Owl

The Barred Owl’s diet consists of many different kinds of animals, such as small mammals, small to medium sized birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.  Jersey’s favorite food is mice, wings down!  At times she can be a very picky eater!  I guess I would be too if I was given peanut butter on celery instead of strawberries.  I love strawberries, but detest peanut butter (I know, it’s unusual).  To Jersey, mice are to strawberries as chicken is to peanut butter.  Everyone has a preference. 

With most birds of prey, males and females differ in size.  Normally with mammals, it is the males that are larger than the females, but most raptors have it switched!  The females are around a third larger than males.  Barred Owls range from 470-1050 grams (1lb – 2.5lbs) in weight.  They stand from 17-20 inches in height.  They also have a large wingspan for their size, 39-43 inches (3-3.5 feet).  Their lifespan in the wild ranges from 4-8 years and up to 20 years in captivity.  The oldest Barred Owl in captivity was 24 years old!

Here is a photo of Jersey hooting at me

If you hear an owl calling and you are wondering if it is a Barred Owl, then think of the sayings “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”  Try it now but replace the words with hoos.  This is the Barred Owl “song.”  When a group of Barred Owls hoot together, they sound like a bunch of monkeys!  Above is a picture of Jersey hooting at me.  Do you notice that her throat is puffed up?

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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