-taps quietly playing in the background-

It was with a saddened heart that while driving the roads through the Ozarks this past week, I counted at minimum 18 Barred Owls (Strix varia) dead on the roadsides. Last Sunday afternoon, in a stretch of the divided Hwy 60 between Van Buren and Birch Tree (~30 miles) there were 6 individuals on one side of the road alone. Last Sunday, I had counted 12 on westbound lanes, then at least 6 more on the eastbound side during my return to the Bootheel.

Of course, it's always sad to see something like this. At the same time I know that it's part of life. I'm just a bit surprised by what seems to be a rather high number. Maybe this is normal through the Ozarks, and they are just not observed and/or reported.

I know in the past while deer hunting at Duck Creek CA, I have seen 3 Barred Owls dead on the road in one day's time near the conservation area before. So I understand that if there is a high concentration of owls, prey, and/or traffic, this will occur in greater frequency.
On a brighter note, I met a falconer at Otter Slough CA today who had caught a Red-tailed Hawk that had obviously fled its handler. It had a band on one leg and a tether on the other. The bird was healthy. With several MDC officers on hand, the general consent was to remove the band and tether from the bird and release it back into the wild. The bander/handler will be notified.

The biggest surprise at Otter Slough CA might be two Blue-headed Vireos observed while I walked the boardwalk. It was Duck season opener and people/hunters were nearly everywhere. Very busy, but man, what a glorious day.

Bird on . . . in life and death.

Chris Barrigar
Stoddard Co.
Bloomfield, MO
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