On March 18th I teased about a fun raptor encounter I had that topped a Bald Eagle flyby and an Osprey-Red-tailed Hawk nest fight.
What could top seeing those birds of prey in action? Only a Barred Owl.
Earlier that morning, I was standing at an overlook of one of the springs, watching a Great Blue Heron. I don’t often walk right up to the spring openings themselves, so I was surprised to see such a large bird standing right there just a few feet away from me.
In that quiet moment a Barred Owl swooped down between the heron and me, and flew down the spring run. I scrambled down the path towards where the owl was heading, trying to get a fix on its location. I found it sitting on a branch near the water.
I held my breath as the bird dipped into the water to bathe. It splashed around a bit and then returned to the branch. It jumped back into the water several times. I took a little video.
After its morning dip, the owl flew up to a higher perch, but it would get no rest. Two Blue Jays began harassing the owl. I captured a moment on video: a jay dive-bombing the owl. See the slo-mo action:
I was especially thrilled to see a Barred Owl in this part of Gemini Springs. Last year a pair of owls raised a pair of chicks to branching age and beyond, and I had so much fun watching them each time I visited the park. This year I have been looking and listening for signs of nesting, but until the day I spotted this bathing beauty I had not seen any sign of owls in the same area. I’m hopeful that I will be able to see more Barred Owl action at the park in the coming weeks.