Sanctuary for Barred Owl Journal

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Sanctuary for  Barred Beauty

From its beginnings as a seed, through its life as seedling, sapling, and then full-grown tree, a mature Sugar Maple (Acer sacchurum) in the mixed hardwood forests of the Northeast will often represent 100 or more years of growth.  In those years, the Maple will have found itself an important component in different parts of the forest, beginning on the forest floor, moving through understory growth shaded by larger trees, and then growing to become part of the canopy of the forest, shading the smaller trees and plants around it.  Almost every part of a Maple provides food to the animals of the forest- the bark, the buds, flowers, seeds, and small twigs are eaten by deer and moose, rabbits, squirrels, mice and birds- while the leaves and seed stalks are often used nesting material.  The Maple also provides shelter for the forest animals, in and among its branches and in cavities around its roots.  When the Maple suffers an injury and its bark cracks-through frost, lightning, logging, or disease, the inner wood begins to rot while the roots may be undamaged and the vital sapwood just below the bark can continue to supply water and nutrients throughout the tree.  Over time, the heartwood will continue to rot, but the Maple may be able to live and grow for many years.  Now the Maple offers another kind of shelter to the forest animals by providing a sanctuary in the space of its hollowed heart.
Barred Owls (Strix varia) are year-long residents of forests and woodlands.  Their familiar songs are heard both night and day as they call among each other, a loud resonant Hoo hoo too-hoo, which may sound to some like who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?  Barred Owls hunt primarily at night with a near silent flight.  In many cultures, owls are seen as magical, or part of the spirit world, imbued with great wisdom and guardianship because of their active life within darkness and their vigilance throughout the night.  Barred Owls choose natural tree hollows and openings as preferred nest sites where they find refuge from larger owls and hawks that would prey on their eggs, nestlings, and occasionally adults.  Barred Owls spend much of the year alone however they will mate for life and and will keep and maintain a single nest site in the same tree for many years.
artwork by Susan Bull Riley © 2010 
text by Gigi Marks
Tags: birds, botanicals,