An Owl in the Arboretum

Susan, Peter and I took a walk in the Arnold Arboretum today, cut short by the rain. On our way back to Forest Hills, we saw a large whoosh of brown feathers fly low right over the path. It was a large owl of some sort and it was being pursued by a bunch of crows. We caught up with it down the path where it settled in the branch of a tree and looked pretty calm. Perhaps it realized that it is much bigger than the crows. It stayed still long enough for me to get one quick, blurry photo.

Owl in the Arboretum

I shared the photo with our friend Toby who is a birder and she identified it as a Barred Owl:

They tend to like densely wooded and swampy areas, but every winter one or two of them show up in downtown Boston … They feed mostly on rodents, so downtown Boston offers rich pickings.

Even though a Barred Owl does not present a threat to crows, they’ll chase it anyway. Any kind of raptor will set them off, and Great Horned Owls (which live in the same types of habitat) are a danger.

We’re having a problem with mice in our kitchen so perhaps we should invite the Barred Owl to stop by.

This concludes the ornithological lesson for today.