Barred Owl Hunting during the Day

donnavee

Songster
11 Years
May 7, 2009
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Hillsborough NC
I was out doing the morning chores - fresh food & water, etc for the chickens & ducks around 10 am today when I heard a disturbance and saw all my birds head for cover. I looked up to see a barred owl fly up and perch in a nearby tree. After much yelling and arm waving on my part it finally left. Our chickens & ducks normally free range in a large portion of the woods and I have criss-crossed fishing line over part of it, which seemed to keep the owl from having his snack. I put everyone in semi-lockdown, restricting them to the more protected area and a good thing because the owl has come back twice, always perching in the same tree. I finally put my birds in complete lockdown as having that owl staring down at my birds is freaky.

I never realized owls hunted during the day, just hoping it gives up and finally moves on. My chickens seem much more aware of danger than the ducks.
 

ChickenCanoe

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Nov 23, 2010
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I think they will when they're hungry. I usually have one sitting in a tree next to the house (facing away from the coops luckily) most mornings.
About 4 in the afternoon one day I was driving up the road about 100 yards from my drive and a Great Horned owl flew over my car.
 

TehLizardKing

Songster
7 Years
Jul 29, 2012
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Lincolnshire
Hmm.....wow...... that is so strange! I know for a fact that barred owls are almost nocturnal (they mostly hunt at dusk and dawn), and also, you were right to close the birds up, as they sometimes take ducks in the wild, not sure about chickens though? Is it definitely returning to the same branch frequently? because that may be it's favourite roost, and if it is, there is not much you can do to stop it unfortunately.

As long as there is a good supply of rodents and reptiles, you're birds should be ok. Your owl may even not be interested in the birds (I may be wrong of course) but it might just be new in the neighbourhood and wanted to check out the strange fat birds that patrol the forest floor. Listen to this, it may sound stupid, but it works for me! find an old potato sack, stuff it full of straw, and mould it into the rough shape of a chicken. Cover it with glue, and then feathers, so it vaguely resembles a bird. Leave it upright close to the owl's tree while the other birds are put away, and watch the magic happen! the owl will marvel at it's luck if it feels partial to a bit of chicken, and you will see it swoop down and savage the old potato sack. If it doesn't think of chickens as food it will not bother and go about it's business. Works every time for me! You will then know if it is safe for your lovely birds to resume their positions in the forest!
 

donnavee

Songster
11 Years
May 7, 2009
828
127
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Hillsborough NC
Hmm.....wow...... that is so strange! I know for a fact that barred owls are almost nocturnal (they mostly hunt at dusk and dawn), and also, you were right to close the birds up, as they sometimes take ducks in the wild, not sure about chickens though? Is it definitely returning to the same branch frequently? because that may be it's favourite roost, and if it is, there is not much you can do to stop it unfortunately. As long as there is a good supply of rodents and reptiles, you're birds should be ok. Your owl may even not be interested in the birds (I may be wrong of course) but it might just be new in the neighbourhood and wanted to check out the strange fat birds that patrol the forest floor. Listen to this, it may sound stupid, but it works for me! find an old potato sack, stuff it full of straw, and mould it into the rough shape of a chicken. Cover it with glue, and then feathers, so it vaguely resembles a bird. Leave it upright close to the owl's tree while the other birds are put away, and watch the magic happen! the owl will marvel at it's luck if it feels partial to a bit of chicken, and you will see it swoop down and savage the old potato sack. If it doesn't think of chickens as food it will not bother and go about it's business. Works every time for me! You will then know if it is safe for your lovely birds to resume their positions in the forest!
I have always heard the Barred Owls in our woods but a safe distance away and normally evening or at night so it never worried me. Then the other evening as DH & I were sipping a glass of wine on the patio one flew right by us - but it was evening and everyone had already been put up for the night.

There is a creek that runs through the back of our woods - not where the chickens or ducks have access to - so lots of frogs and lizards around. In the tree where it was perching, there is a large nest which I'm guessing could be an old squirrel's nest. Not sure if maybe it was thinking about using it for it's own brood?

The potato sack thing sounds so crazy it just might work! Thanks for the tip.
 

aart

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Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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...... Listen to this, it may sound stupid, but it works for me! find an old potato sack, stuff it full of straw, and mould it into the rough shape of a chicken. Cover it with glue, and then feathers, so it vaguely resembles a bird. Leave it upright close to the owl's tree while the other birds are put away, and watch the magic happen! the owl will marvel at it's luck if it feels partial to a bit of chicken, and you will see it swoop down and savage the old potato sack. If it doesn't think of chickens as food it will not bother and go about it's business. Works every time for me! You will then know if it is safe for your lovely birds to resume their positions in the forest!
Really?!? have you tried this yourself??
 
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el pollo rey

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6 Years
Apr 1, 2013
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costa Rica
I think they will when they're hungry. I usually have one sitting in a tree next to the house (facing away from the coops luckily) most mornings.
About 4 in the afternoon one day I was driving up the road about 100 yards from my drive and a Great Horned owl flew over my car.
. I agree with canoe , they may be a primarily nocturnal predator but they are also a very opportunistic predator day or night when I was young I remember squirrel hunting in NW Ohio one brisk oct morning I sat next to a big hickory tree along a creek to watch three or four red squirrels playing atop a big white oak and about the time I raised my 22 up to look through the scope I seen and heard a flash and a long soft swoop and four reds were now three just that fast ! The others went into lock down mode like they do they think if they lay flat against the trunk of the tree and don't move you can't see them well about a second later as I was still trying to figure out what just happened another flash this time right past my head to where I not only heard the woosh but felt the wind as it cut by me and three were now two ,,, man could this be for real ? about twenty yards down the creek bed from that oak we were all three watching so intently sat a pair of great horned owls both with two big red squirls in a talon just starring at me they looked down on me from there perch with no fear and a grin in their eye like these are our woods buddy !!! It was 9 or 10 in the am, so day or night people or no people a hungry owl will always take a easy meal ,,,,, true story
 

PLNKDH

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 23, 2013
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I am an avid birder and Barred Owl aficionado. I can certainly understand your fear for your chickens, I assume that they are pretty much family... I know that if I had chickens they would be family in my eyes. :) Anyway, in answer to your question about Barred Owls hunting during the day - Yes they will hunt during the day, but it is far more commonly seen when they are hunting for their own brood, as one of you mentioned. Here in Middle Tennessee the Barred Owls have just this week fledged their young, so it is very likely that they are looking for food for their owlets.
I do believe that chickens are too big for a Barred Owl to take, however. They rarely prey on anything bigger than a cardinal or chipmunk - voles being their favorite prey. I would worry if you had chicks, but the adult chickens, I believe, are too big. I suspect that they were actually going for the voles and mice that hang around where your chickens are - getting any spilled grains.

Great Horned Owls are a completely different story however... they even eat Barred Owls.
 

donnavee

Songster
11 Years
May 7, 2009
828
127
236
Hillsborough NC
I am an avid birder and Barred Owl aficionado. I can certainly understand your fear for your chickens, I assume that they are pretty much family... I know that if I had chickens they would be family in my eyes. :) Anyway, in answer to your question about Barred Owls hunting during the day - Yes they will hunt during the day, but it is far more commonly seen when they are hunting for their own brood, as one of you mentioned. Here in Middle Tennessee the Barred Owls have just this week fledged their young, so it is very likely that they are looking for food for their owlets.
I do believe that chickens are too big for a Barred Owl to take, however. They rarely prey on anything bigger than a cardinal or chipmunk - voles being their favorite prey. I would worry if you had chicks, but the adult chickens, I believe, are too big. I suspect that they were actually going for the voles and mice that hang around where your chickens are - getting any spilled grains.

Great Horned Owls are a completely different story however... they even eat Barred Owls.
No baby chicks, but along with the larger domestic ducks are a few call ducks which I'm sure it could easily take. Haven't seen it lately and will keep everyone under cover until the danger has passed. The chickens were the most distressed when they saw it, I don't think ducks are as smart as chickens - but they are entertaining.
 

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