Part of a series
When we finally spotted our neighborhood’s Barred Owl, perched deep in the nearby woods but still within hooting distance of our balcony, we realized he was one step ahead of us.
The owl had been watching us long before we found him.
We spotted him planted on a branch midway up a towering ivy-covered tree, camouflaged with a background that perfectly matched his plumage. He was staring down at us as if to say, what took so long.
The Barred Owl is a surveillance wonder. Its huge, dark eyes have telescopic vision. It can sit for hours scouring its territory. It can swivel its heads almost all the way around in either direction, a feat so impressive researchers at Johns Hopkins University conducted a full-fledged study to figure out how owls do what no other creature can. (See the explanation below after the second photo gallery.)
Almost as soon as we moved into our new home not far from downtown Raleigh, N.C., we started hearing our owl’s “Who Cooks for You” hoot. (Click for samples.) Barred Owls are homebodies, staying mostly put and rarely traveling far throughout their lifetime. Despite the urban setting, ours found a slice of woodlands with just the mix of aged trees, thick underbrush and a running stream owls prefer.