Suspicious sounds lead to owl rescue in Plaistow

Plaistow Animal Control Officer Maura Wentworth holds a barred owl rescued from a chimney in Plaistow in November 2019.

New York City has one Barry the owl, but here in Nashua and across New Hampshire, we have lots of Barrys, and we take our good fortune with a dose of humbleness and pride.

NYC Barry is a magnificent barred owl who found a perch in Central Park’s North Woods.

Bird watchers both young and old traveled near and far to see the owl, which has been roosting and plucking up prey for food during the daylight hours. New Yorkers stand ready with their cellphone cameras to capture that perfect avian shot.

People are fascinated by owls with their bulbous eyes, poufs of feathers, haunting calls and unique ability to twist their heads almost 360 degrees (270, to be exact).

Barred owls are common in southern New Hampshire, and maybe you’ve seen one or certainly heard its distinct baritone hooting. I used to hear barred owls when I lived close to Fields Grove park during my childhood.

They are rather large birds with white feathers streaked with brown and gray.

Birding is a safe, solo pandemic pursuit if you’re keen on finding your own Barry hanging out in the woods.

Around here, we have the Nashaway Chapter of the New Hampshire Audubon Society.

I chatted with the Nashaway member Richard Bielawski. The experienced and avid birder typically leads monthly field trips to birding locations in New Hampshire or Massachusetts.

At the moment, however, field trips are not happening because of the coronavirus. Bielawski hopes to restart these birdwatching events next September.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in birding, “Mine Falls Park is a good spot to search for barred owls,” in addition to many other bird species, he said.

A few weeks ago, the Nashaway Chapter held a discussion via Zoom about the endangered Northern Harrier. The guest expert was New Hampshire Audubon raptor biologist Chris Martin, and it was a sold-out event.

To keep folks engaged about bird-watching, the NH Audubon Society (www.nhaudubon.org) offers excellent virtual resources you can use from home.

I learned more about the barred owl from the website’s animal ambassador Q&A. There are currently two barred owls residing at Concord’s McLane Center, the Audubon headquarters.

Joan Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column appears every other Thursday. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.