Saturday evening I rode along with a fellow West Fargoan on a road trip to Petersburg, ND. I’ll grant you this little burg west of Grand Forks is not your typical weekend destination. But we had every reason to be there. Word was out there wereÂ was a barn owl family in town.
Yes, just 10 days after I had cast doubt upon a recent poster to theÂ ND birders’ listserv claiming a barn owl, a real barn owl was photographed a couple counties away. (I may have to eat my previous words but I doubt it).
Several folks from the Grand Forks bird club were there by the time we rolled into town. They’d all seenÂ the birds. But for whatever reason,Â it couldn’t be found at the moment.Â Well, 90 minutes of wandering the neighborhood later,Â someone refound a roosting adult. So we hustled over to see it.
Here’s the best shot I got:
I suspect this bird is a female but I’m not positive. Experts say the gals have more breast spots as this one shows.
It was a new state bird for me and a lifer for Dean.
We stayed until sunset to watch the bird fly. In the minutes leading up to leaving the bird got fidgety, with wing stretching, some leaning, opening its eyes more–all a presage for the night flight. When some internal determination was made telling the bird it was dark enough, it took off on slow methodical wing beats. Voles and mice beware!
Soon enough it was joined by a partner (the other adult I presume) and the birds could be seen off-and-on in an area the townfolk had seen them every night for weeks. They told us as many as five barn owls had been counted. I presume the other three were juveniles. Might they have already dispersed? I don’t know.
I will continue to monitor the local area for barn owls. In the years I’ve been looking for them, I’ve seen nothing. But now I will look with more vigor.