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Name: Jack M.
Status: other
Age: 50s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 7/28/2003

Hi: 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.

Steve Sample

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