A visual journal exploring the birds of Inwood and Northern Manhattan

by Teri Tynes – writer, photographer, and illustrator

The Blue Jays Harass a Barred Owl

Early one morning in Inwood Hill Park a few days ago, a Barred Owl was minding its own business in the White Pines when Blue Jays began to take notice and noisily harass it. The miffed owl then flew from its comfy pine tree to a bare deciduous tree and eventually to another pine nearby. That’s when the fierce harassment began.

Anyone who wants to find hawks or owls knows to listen for a noisy band of Blue Jays. The Blue Jays find these large birds a threat and will dive-bomb them. The jays can be aggressive and get in the bird’s immediate space. It’s not easy to watch. Crows, mockingbirds, and other birds are also known to engage in mobbing.

Recent local social media reports, especially from Central Park, confirm the prevalence of this mobbing behavior. In addition to famous Flaco the Eurasian Eagle-Owl, and Geraldine, the park’s resident Great Horned Owl, a Long-eared Owl visited there recently. Bands of Blue Jays have harassed all these owls. In Inwood Hill Park, Blue Jays will also bother the Eastern Screech-Owl that is often seen high up above the Clove path. 

I witnessed this particular mobbing from a respectful distance. The zoom range of my Nikon allowed me to capture the action. Mainly, a single Blue Jay was leading the harassment, so by definition that would be several birds short of an actual mob.

I am happy to report that the incident was over within thirty minutes and the Barred Owl prevailed.

Barred Owl, finally at peace. All images from April 2023.


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