Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Photograph by Justine Kibbe

There are more Barred Owls on Fishers Island than any other species of owl. Their considerable numbers indicate they have found an ample supply of prey here. “Barred owls eat many kinds of small animals, including squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, rabbits, birds (up to the size of grouse), amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. They hunt by sitting and waiting on an elevated perch, while scanning all around for prey with their sharp eyes and ears.” Quote from Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website,

Barred Owl nesting in tree cavity

March 21, 1988
Photograph by Charlie Morgan

“Barred Owls live year-round in mixed forests of large trees, often near water. They tend to occur in large, unfragmented blocks of mature forest, possibly because old woodlands support a higher diversity of prey and are more likely to have large cavities suitable for nesting.” Quote from Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website,

Barred Owl

Photograph  by Nirapa Horning

Two Great Horned Owl young in nest near Brickyard Road

Photograph by Todd McCormack

Great Horned Owls typically nest in trees, but they often appropriate existing nests built by other species. These nests are built up with added sticks and lined with a combination of found items like pieces of bark, and feathers and fur from prey. Nest size varies considerably depending on the original builder, who might have been a squirrel, crow, raven, heron, hawk, etc. In the last decade, two Osprey nests were taken over by Great Horned Owls, one at the former Rafferty house on Middle Farms Pond (now Alsop), and one at Money Pond.

Closer view of two Great Horned Owl young

Photograph by Todd McCormack

Great Horned Owl landing at Rafferty (Alsop) Osprey Nest overlooking Middle Farms Pond

Photograph by John Wilton

Great Horned Owl greeting two fledglings on former Osprey nest

Photograph by John Wilton

Although the Great Horned Owls were only squatters for one year, Ospreys, whose young are sometimes eaten by Great Horned Owls, did not return to this nest for almost a decade.

Pair of Great Horned Owls in tree

Photograph by Harris Parsons, Jr.

Snowy Owl at the Race

Photograph by Marlen Bloethe

Although they don’t nest on Fishers Island, Snowy Owls are regular winter visitors. They have been spotted at Race Point, at the Airport, on Stony Beach, at Simmons Point, and other open areas, including the golf courses. They can sit still in the same spot for hours, occasionally swiveling their head or leaning forward and blinking their eyes. When they hunt, they use extraordinary vision and hearing to draw a bead on their prey and then fly, or run forward to pounce upon it. Rabbits, ducks and pheasant are all on their menu card.

Your Majesty

January 2014
Photograph by Justine Kibbe

This juvenile Snowy Owl was photographed near Elizabeth Field Airport.

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

Photograph by Jacqueline L. Williamson

Although a common owl in forests across America, this highly nocturnal owl is rarely seen on Fishers Island and is not known to have ever nested here.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Photograph by Nirapa Horning

Don’t let their cute looks fool you. These tiny owls are fierce and effective predators of small mammals, especially mice and voles.

Barred Owl at night, east end

Photograph by Juliet Vicente

Annual exhibition sponsored by ALTUS Partners & CHUBB