If you like up-close, personal encounters with owls and their chicks, then the perennial Barred Owl Nest located in a high-traffic area of Tryon Creek State Park is a must see. The chicks often end up on or near one of the trails that intersect below the nest - and if there are a lot of people and dogs in the area at the time, the otherwise quiet scene immediately turns chaotic. I don't think a chick has ever been lost to dogs at this location, but that statistic will not last. Locals are very good about keeping their pets leashed while passing by the nest tree, but newbies are clueless - so please be prepared act quickly if you see an unleashed dog approaching the area.
The second of three nestlings left the nest yesterday. I expect the remaining chick will fledge either today or tomorrow. After that, the fledglings will probably remain in the area, being fed by the adults, for another few days before they move away from the nest tree into the surrounding forest.
Giving directions to roost and nest sites is normally frowned upon. But I believe encouraging responsible bird watchers to visit this nest site to act has chaperones while the chicks are moving in and out of precarious positions is appropriate. So, let me know if you'd like to watch these birds first hand. I will be happy to help.
Notice the vole on the branch in front of the female pictured below. This is the first time I witnessed the parents leaving food behind - they usually deliver the prey to one of the fledglings after they tear it up a bit. But this time, she flew to another perch closer to the nest without the prey and began calling to the second fledgling that was just 20 to 30 feet away.
Jill was certain the 2nd fledgling shown below was going to free fall 30 feet to the path in front of us.
You will hear her laugh in relief when that doesn't happen.
The last of three nestlings. As you will see, it won't be long before he/she joins its siblings outside the nest. The parents stopped feeding the chicks in the nest a few days ago. Hunger seems to be one of the tools the parents use to encourage the chicks to fledge.