365 Nature – Day 130

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Each day of the year I will post something here about nature. It may be any format, a photo, video, audio, sketch or entry from my nature journal. It could be a written piece. Each day I will connect to nature in some way and share it here by the end of that day. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to the RSS feed or be notified by email. See all the 365 Nature posts.


Even though I’ve tromped through the arboretum so many times I can’t remember, very rarely does a day pass when I don’t discover something different. If one does, I assume it’s because I wasn’t paying attention. Today I’d nearly completed my walk with not much new, when a large bird erupted from the side of the path as I neared. I immediately knew it was one of the Barred Owls as I was in their territory where they usually roost. I quickly followed and found it had flown to a tree near its usual roost, but very close to the path.

I watched and recorded it as the Black-capped Chickadees thew out the alarm call. I rounded the corner to try and get a better look at it and watched it again for maybe another minute before it jumped off the branch and flew right past me and down the path. As it flew away it picked up a crow who proceeded to harass it as it flew into another tree right next to the path. I followed again to watch and there it sat for a few minutes, the crows constantly cawing at it from the other side of the trunk. Eventually the owl jumped off the branch again, this time with the crows in hot pursuit.

The owl flew downhill and landed in the crotch of a Bigleaf Maple tree and the crows took turns diving at it. A few times it looked like they made contact, hitting the owl. The owl was ducking and turning it’s head, frantically tracking the crows. They again made it fly, this time to a branch on the same tree where it sat briefly before they successfully chased it back the way it had come from originally.

It was quite an experience for several reasons, the first was how active it was during the day, even before the crows started chasing it. The other reason was how close it came to me while flying, not once, but three times. The final reason was how aggressive the crows were and I’m guessing they had a nest nearby. I’ve seen the crows many times caw at and harass the owls here, but never dive and hit the owl so agressively.

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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of a book about urban nature, coming Spring 2020 from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, ParentMap, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction.

Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

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