Less surprising than impending, on December 15th a photograph showing a mysterious Strix owl was shown to Jacque Lowery by a customer at a local plant nursery. The bird had been roosting in a tree in a private yard in Sparks, Nevada, for the past three nights; long enough for the owner to want to discover its identity. In the following days the bird disappeared from its roost site but finally returned on the 20th, at which point Lowery was able to rush out to the spot and document Nevada's first record of Barred Owl.
As the bird is on private property, access is limited and the owner of the property is reluctant to give out the address. If the bird sticks around, however, Jacque has stated that she will encourage the property owner to allow prearranged access to a group of birders. Nevada birders interested in potentially seeing this bird should email Lowery at nevadabird AT charter.net.
The expansion of Barred Owl into the western part of the continent has been both exciting and worrying. The species has shown to be more aggressive and adaptable than its endangered co-gener, Spotted Owl, and has displaced the latter in many parts of its range in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.
Barred Owl has been expanding across Canada for a century now, moving into British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon over the last 40 years and into Idaho, Montana, and California for the first time in the 80s. In the past, it has come as close to Nevada as Sierra and Siskiyou counties in California. The occurance of one in Nevada seemed only to be a matter of time, as will be the inevitable records for Utah, Colorado, and Arizona in coming years.