Walking to work this morning, I was both startled and thrilled by the distinctive call of a barred owl; his bulky silhouette, backed by the predawn glow, occupied a large, barren oak along our road and he called a few more times before flying off toward our local woodland.
Commonly interpreted as "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?," the call of the barred owl is especially common during the month of April, when their breeding season peaks. Smaller than the great horned owl, these nocturnal hunters favor wooded bottomlands and swamps but often visit nearby residential areas; mice, voles and cottontails are their most common prey.
Unlike the majority of their cousins, barred owls are often heard during the day, especially in early spring. Having survived a long, cold winter, we are pleased to hear their questioning call, another sign that the season of renewal has taken hold.