• May 2024 Photo-observation of the Month

    Congratulations to Susan Elliot (@susanelliott) for winning the May 2024 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Her photograph of a baby Barred Owl nestled inside a log received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

    Though nocturnal, Barred Owls can sometimes be seen hunting and calling during the day and are more tolerant of human presence than many other owls, which may be why their populations and ranges are growing. These owls breed in late winter, during the cold days of February and March. Life-bonded pairs make their nests in forests inside tree cavities, which they may reuse year after year and furnish with feathers, lichen, and conifer sprigs. Between March and April, a female lays a clutch of 2-3 pure white, textured eggs. For the following month, the female incubates the eggs while the male brings food to her. Owlets hatch with white, downy feathers and begin to grow adult feathers at around 6 weeks old. At that point, the fledglings start exploring around the nest tree, often falling to the ground and having to climb back up using their feet and beaks. The parents continue to help feed the fledglings as they practice hunting throughout the summer months. By mid-autumn, when the young owls are flying and hunting well by themselves, they fly away from the nest and gain independence.

    With 29,095 observations submitted by 2,226 observers in May, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

    Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

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