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2021 Barred Owl Season Highlights | Cornell Lab | Wild Birds Unlimited184K subscribersAs winter fades each year, cam viewers anticipate the return of the Barred Owls to their springtime residence in Zionsville, Indiana. Activity at the nest box in late February signaled the owls’ preparations for the new breeding season. It wasn’t long before the female laid two pearly white eggs in the nest box in early March. She continued to be the sole caretaker of her eggs over the month-long incubation period. The male’s role was to hunt and provide his partner with plenty of food, and he was up to the task. Barred Owls are opportunistic hunters. Their prey includes birds, small mammals, reptiles, fish, arthropods, and more! The owls kept in contact by projecting hooting calls, like their well- known classic “who cooks for you?”, through the surrounding forest. After a month of dedicated incubation, the female revealed the first signs of hatching in early April. Within a few days, both owlets hatched and became the center of their parents’ attention. In addition to warmth and protection, these hungry owlets required lots of food, and their parents delivered. The owlets grew rapidly, and at between 2 and 3 weeks of age, they began eating prey on their own. Developing into a fierce hunter can be a tiring job, so the chicks made sure to get plenty of rest. Eventually the owlets were named Hickory and Pignut, after the pignut hickory tree on which they nested. After a month in the nest box, Hickory and Pignut were finally ready to begin exploring the outside world. After one last visit from an adult, Hickory took one small step outside the nest box and into the next stage of development. At this stage, young owls are clumsy and mostly flightless, so they navigate the forest by dropping to the ground and climbing trees. Then it was Pignut’s turn to muster up the courage to exit the nest box. Even after leaving the nest, young Barred Owls continue to be fed by their parents for several weeks as they learn to hunt and fly. We’re wishing all the best to this adorable duo. Thanks for watching and learning with us in 2021—we hope to see you next year!Watch live at http://allaboutbirds.org/barredowls for information, highlights, and a link to the inside view. ******************************* Jim Carpenter, President and CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited, has hosted a camera-equipped owl box in his wooded backyard since 1999. Set more than 30 feet high against the trunk of a pignut hickory tree, this Barred Owl box was first occupied in 2006. Since then, the box has hosted several nests, including successful attempts since 2013. The camera system was updated in 2013 with an Axis P3364-LVE security camera and microphone mounted to the side of the box and connected to Jim’s house via 200 feet of ethernet cable. To keep predators like raccoons from investigating the nest, aluminum flashing was wrapped around the tree. An infrared illuminator in the box means you can keep track of the owls’ comings and goings throughout the night (don’t worry—the light is invisible to the owls). Since the birds aren’t banded, we can’t tell whether this is the same pair as in past years. Although male and female Barred Owls look alike in their plumage, females can be up to a third bigger than males. You can also tell the difference between them by watching their behavior; only the female incubates the eggs and chicks, but the male is responsible for the bulk of the feeding, ferrying prey items to the incubating female, and sharing them with her inside and outside of the box.Learn more about Barred Owls in our AllAboutBirds Species Guide at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/b….