Barred Owl in Fresno County
- Dear Calbirders --
On June 1, 2004, seasoned US Forest Service owlers discovered a Barred Owl
near Sequoia Lake, which is about 50 miles east of Fresno near the
Fresno-Tulare County line. George Steger, the wildlife biologist who
oversees the Spotted Owl demographic study in the area, photographed the
bird on June 3, and reports that it appears to be a pure Barred Owl rather
than a mixed "sparred owl."
This species was previously reported in the Sierra south only to Nevada
County, but George told me of a pair on the Eldorado National Forest that
owlers discovered in 2003.
The Fresno County record is especially intriguing in light of a paper
published in Conservation Biology last year. The authors, using an
ecological-niche model, predicted that "...Barred Owls have the potential to
invade as far south as 38 degrees N latitude." So 36 degrees is clearly
remarkable, at least based on this model. Where will they show up next?
I don't know exactly where the bird was seen, and George hopes, for the sake
of the Spotted Owls and their young in the area, that no one will disturb
the Barred Owl, which he believes could respond by driving off the Spotted