Creatures of the Night

Whoooo cooks for youuuu? Whoooo cooks for youuuu? The call of the barred owl. A dark eyed owl (most owls have yellow eyes) about 53cm ( 20”) long, with grey and brown stripes down its feathery chest and tummy. They have been seen in the Stoney Creek Park area, near where the two bridges cross the creek. We will pass by that area twice tonight as we make a figure eight on our walk. Keep your eyes on any crows nests we may pass. You may just get a surprise. Barred owls are known to use abandoned crow and hawk nests as well as excavating a cozy little nesting area in a tree trunk. By the way, these night fliers are not easily disturbed from their daytime sleep. Sound like anybody you know?

Sooo, if you see a pair of yellow eyes peering down in the darkness at you, do you have a barred owl? Nooo – that’s some “other” owl creature. Remember, barred owls have dark eyes. Ok – let’s go!

The nine of us set off at a comfortable pace, from Beaverbrook Drive and Beaverbrook Court, at 7 pm on this overcast Friday the 13th of June. It is a pleasant 13 degrees. We were just making our second pass of the bridge area when we came across the most amusing sight. Fire pairs of curious eyes peering down at us from a single branch. Little black heads tilting this way and that as if to say – Who are you? What are you doing? As Amanda noted, it was definitely a case of the birdwatchers being watched by the birds! Everything is new and ohhh so interesting for this year’s hatch of black capped chickadees. A delightful, acrobatic little bird that looks, at times, like it has swallowed a ping pong ball.

And then … it happened … it flew down right between us … a barred owl? Noooo a bat!!! Yahoo – another exhilarating first sighting in the area for our group.

Anyone tallied up our species count for today?

Bird species seen – 9

Mammals –2 – a bat! And squirrels

PS: As for rabies and bat bites – two interesting sites to check out are http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/education/ , which state: “Most bats don’t have rabies. Rabies in humans is rare in the USA. There are usually only 1 or 2 cases per year.”and http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/9/1329.full

As with all wildlife, bats included, avoid approaching, feeding or touching. Appreciate the creatures’ space and wildness.

Thanks for the question Judy!

Hope you can join us again on our next walk along Burnaby’s Stoney Creek. Check our calendar tab to see when our next bird walk is. We would love to see you again!

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Group photo by Wendy Snyder