Juvenile Barred Owls
Name: Jack M.
We live well off the beaten path in southern NH, and have two barred owls
making a ruckus for the past two days. They are close enough to see, and
have become quite brazen in sitting on a fence not 20 feet from my front
door. They have been "screeching", or more accurately sort of a
whistle/hiss. They have been at it for two days now; the pair seems to be
friendly to each other, as they roost on the same tree. I have seen one
"interloper", who got into an aerial "dogfight" with the other two. I
thought the activity was territorial, but there only seems to be the one
pair around since the dogfight. I have not heard their regular call at
all. I have heard this screech as early as 4:30 in the afternoon, and it
continues most of the night, stopping for a while late evening, and
resuming about 4 am. I have not witnessed activity like that described in
the 10 years I have been living here. What is going on with these
guys? Thank you...
I studied Barred Owls for two years using radio telemetry and what you have is two juveniles
making all that commotion. The call
describe is the juvenile call for food! The dogfight as you described was probably the two fighting
over food from one of the two parents. The parents would never allow outsiders near their
young at this time of the year. The juveniles have been out of their nest now for about two
months depending upon what part of NH you are from. They will move around, but you may see
some of this activity still taking place into September generally. I did not work in NH.
Eventually the adults will chase out the youngsters just prior to the onset of the breeding
season around November or so. Again this all varies depending upon the area of the country
they are located. It is not always a sure thing that a breeding pair can bring up two
juveniles in a single season so you have some really good (or lucky) adult birds. Late
July the juveniles often act like human teenagers by giving their parents (who will generally
stay out of site) real trouble in staying in one place and acting owl-like. This is surely an
anthropomorphic look at what I think you observed. You may see this all over again next year
for Barred Owls have been known to nest in the same areas.
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Update: June 2012