When Barred Owls fledge they are not very good flyers. Their primary flight feathers have not grown in. This doesn’t stop them from getting out and exploring their new world. And as adolescents tend to do, they can take it a little too far. When they do they can end up on the ground after some semi-controlled crash landings.
They instinctively know that they need to get back up in a tree, but they can’t fly so they climb. It’s awkward and gangly, but it works.
They do this under the watchful eye, but not helicoptering parents. The parents seem to believe in ‘if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger’ experiential teaching. The parents will keep feeding and teaching the young owls how to hunt for about 4-5 months. Longer than other owls.
This seems to be working as Barred Owl population numbers are growing. A special shout out for Stephen W. Ramsden the godfather and protector of these owls. Stephen managed crowd control (baby owls attract large crowds of fans), but most importantly helped a wildlife rehabilitator (Stephen volunteers time and passion with local rehabilitators) place an abandoned owlet in the nest (making three) that the mother owl adopted. These pictures are that little owl learning to be an owl in a non-traditional owl family.