|Barred Owl in Prince Edward County on Feb 23, 2013|
So why the difference? It seems that Barred Owls are more conspicuous this year partly because they are very hungry, so they are out earlier in the evening, later in the morning and sometimes all day trying to find some food. It seems that hunger has also pushed more further south this winter. Barred Owls showed up on several Christmas Bird Counts where they don't normally (like the Kitchener count, where 2 were found on count day). Just check out the eBird map for this January-March:
|Barred Owls reported to eBird during January to March 21, 2013|
|Barred Owls reported to eBird during January to March 2012|
Barred Owls were likely once common in forested southern Ontario but they are surprisingly rare there, with only very scattered individual pairs south of Toronto- check out the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas maps to see what I mean. As forests mature in southern Ontario though maybe these big irruptions will help re-establish the species there.