Who gives a hoot: Why series of Fairfax Co. owl sightings are worth noting

One of the barred owls spotted in Fairfax Co. (Courtesy Lori Moran)
Here’s a story you can give a hoot about. Some people in Fairfax County, Virginia, are spotting more and more owls, right in their backyards.

“Be happy you got the chance to see an owl, you don’t get to see them everyday,” Fairfax County Ecologist David Lawlor said.

Owls aren’t spotted in the daytime all that often.

“They mainly hunt at night,” Lawlor said.

One man, Barry Shapiro, recently walked out of his home to see a large barred owl perched on the back window of his red Prius in the Fair Ridge area. He posted a photo on social media.

Some of his neighbors chimed in on the Next Door app, saying the sighting was positively “owlsome,” along with fabulous, astonishing and marvelous. People have also seen the mysterious creatures in the Cabell’s Mill area, not far from Eleanor C. Lawrence Park.

Lori Moran also posted on Next Door, saying she’s seen two owls together.

“I can hear clearly when they are calling to one another. I think they are mates.”

David Lawlor said that’s very possible.

“They might be a little bit more visible this time of year because they are breeding,” Lawlor said.

Barred owls might hatch two or three eggs a year, according to Lawlor, who said taking pictures is fine but advised not to get too close.

“They’ll defend themselves, and owls have incredibly sharp and powerful talons.”

Virginia’s Department of Wildlife resources said the average barred owl is around 21 inches in length and is one of the few owls that people see during the day.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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