We had a great thunderstorm here in Columbia this evening. After the rain stopped the sun came out and my wife and I decided to take a walk around the block to get some exercise before it got dark. The tops of the thunderheads were glowing salmon and gold as they caught the last rays of the sun.  We saw lots of bats flying around in the early evening. As we turned a corner we heard a group of very vocal robins in a tree in a neighbors' yard. We looked up and could not see what they were upset about. It became evident a few seconds later, however, when a large, shadowy clump of leaves spread its wings, metamorphosed itself into a Barred Owl and flew to another tree a few feet away, chased by a dozen upset and very vocal robins. The Owl started vocalizing back at the robins for a few minutes, before it flew to another branch. We watched for about 5 minutes as the drama unfolded, until the Owl flew to a another tree about a block away and the local robins decided that they had chased the dangerous creature out of their territory. I tried to spot the owl again, but it had turned itself back into a clump of leaves, so I did not see it again. It is amazing how a bird as large as a barred owl can be in a tree 25 feet away and be virtually invisible to humans unless it moves.
We have been treated to at two barred owls in our neighborhood for the past couple of months, even though we live in Central Columbia (between Broadway and Stewart Road near West Blvd if anyone wants to know). I suspect that they are raising a family in the neighborhood because they have been in the same area all spring.
It was a short walk. But it was really fun.
Mark Gutchen
Columbia MO
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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