This morning at Leafhopper Farm, there was a special visitor in the mists. A resident bard owl flew in for a look at our swales. This modest little female gave a few begging calls as she glided around the property attempting to avoid the shaming alarms of the other avian residence. These pictures are terrible because my phone cannot take magnified photos in mist very well, but you can see her perched below on the gate post. She looked a little awkward next to the holstein cow bird house to the right. The owl decided to move on when a woodpecker swooped down at her.
The Bard Owl next landed on a cedar closer to the chicken coop. I worried that she was casing the joint, awaiting the release of the chickens for the day. Other birds in the area were now in terrific alarm over this predator ghost on silent wing. She took to the air again, gliding around the pond and into the apple orchard where more angry calls spooked her into giving another begging call before she dipped to the south and disappeared into the woods below as silently as she had come.
At Leafhopper Farm, there is a huge respect for owls, and an awareness of their vulnerability. One of the most common ways for people to accidentally kill owls involves poison. You may not know it, but the rat and mouse bait you put down to keep out vermin can be lethal to birds of prey. A mouse who eats the poison, then might scurry out into the field at night searching for water and find its way into the talons of an owl. The poor bird eats the contaminated rodent and also consumes the poison, which is enough to kill both animals. Hawks are killed in much the same way, so please be aware of what you’re putting out for the rats and mice. Leafhopper uses D3 bait, an organic choice which still does the job on the rodents without threatening other wildlife. I am glad to see the owl on the land, though I hope she leaves the chickens alone.