The sad savage beauty of the Barred Owl

Barred Owls, Strix varia, are fairly common here, but since I am diurnal I rarely see them. I have a camera trap on my big hickory tree, and one came several nights in a row, probably hoping to catch one of the flying squirrels that live in my tree. Here he or she is:


The wings are barred, but the name actually comes from the vertical bars on the chest, which will see in some later photos.


One night, I got a movie:


Occasionally they can be seen in the daytime.  This one perched on a pine tree next to my son’s house near Boston a couple of years ago. It is the only American owl with brown (as opposed to yellow) eyes.


They hunt in wooded areas, and if a road runs through woodland they are sometimes hit by cars.  Sadly, we found this one last week on a small lane overhung by trees near the lake.


It had no apparent injuries , but when we moved it off the road it was clear its neck was broken.


It had fully feathered legs, and the most fearsome talons and rough leathery feet to help it grip.:


Such savage beauty, like all raptors.

PS Don’t confuse the Barred Owl with the Barn Owl! The US Barred Owl weighs from 0.5Kg – 1Kg. By comparison, the UK Barn owl, Tyto alba, is smaller, weighing 0.2 – 0.7Kg, and of course much whiter!



Adjidaumo, the velveteen squirrel

American red squirrels, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, look like russet velveteen plush toys:


But in fact they are very aggressive. They have formidable teeth and claws:

Red squirrelDSC03227

Their feet are interesting too, with thick calloused pads on the palm as well as the fingers:

Red squirrel

Sometimes you can see a wounded squirrel like the one below. It had identical wounds on both sides of its muzzle. I do not know if another squirrel did it, or whether it was chased by the fox that is hanging around my garden. The second photo shows the same squirrel, with the wound healed:

Red squirrelRed squirrel

The video below shows typical squirrels squabbling over territory and food; as you will hear they are extremely noisy :

In Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha, the squirrel is called Adjidaumo. 
This is an Ojibwa word literally meaning "mouth-foremost", because 
squirrels descend trees head first. Here is a short excerpt from the 

At the stern sat Hiawatha, 
With his fishing-line of cedar; 
In his plumes the breeze of morning 
Played as in the hemlock branches ; 
On the bows, with tail erected, 
Sat the squirrel, Adjidaumo ; 
In his fur the breeze of morning 
Played as in the prairie grasses. 


And the squirrel, Adjidaumo, 
Frisked and chattered very gayly, 
Toiled and tugged with Hiawatha 
Till the labour was completed. 

Then said Hiawatha to him, 
" O my little friend, the squirrel, 
Bravely have you toiled to help me ; 
Take the thanks of Hiawatha, 
And the name which now he gives you ; 
For hereafter and for ever 
Boys shall call you Adjidaumo, 
Tail-in-air the boys shall call you !