Owl Update

 
Last year’s Barred owl female. Was this the victim?
by Prevost
We went to look for owl pellets and whitewash in an attempt to study the barred owl pair. We have not been able to find them near last year’s nest. The beginning of our walk was overcast and storms threatened. We began our search and almost immediately came across an area of feathers with two wings that looked like they had been pulled from the bird’s body. The wings were surrounded by feathers concentrated into a small circular area. We then searched the woods around the feathers for the remaining bird, but could not find anything. The feathers looked like they had not been disturbed since the kill had taken place. They were not scattered around as if another animal had been through the area. It appeared as if whatever had taken the body had simply flown away with it.
 
Pile of feathers and wing.

 
Bird found within 4 feet of dead owl.
 
Fresh whitewash near last year’s nest.
A few feet from the feathers, the body of a smaller bird was lying with its head completely detached. Across the trail, underneath a tree, one of the members of the class found some whitewash, evidence that an owl had been in the area. It was originally guessed that the wings we had found belonged to a red-tailed hawk. One of the guys in the class did some research and found that the wing pattern matched that of a barred owl. In reviewing the pictures, I looked up the wing pattern on a feather identification website and agree that they were feathers of a barred owl. All these findings pose many questions. What was able to so violently pull the wings off a barred owl? Where did the rest of it go? We do know that one of the only natural predators of a barred owl, the great horned owl, lives in the area. Did it feel threatened and kill the barred owl? And what was the smaller bird’s role in this mid-air drama, if that’s what it was? I’d like to find some of the answers to these questions but we may not be able to.
 
Is this the culprit?
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