Barred owls take up residence

Years of waiting were rewarded when a pair of nesting owls moved in, and now three young owlets are also residents of the Kralik family’s property in southern RIdgefield.

The barred owls moved into an owl box set up by Michael Kralik, who has been taking wildlife photos for six years now and has captured images that range from bears and bobcats to deer and turkeys.

“The owl house I put up about five years ago. I bought the house online and I have had raccoons, squirrels and woodpeckers in it but never a nesting pair of owls,” Kralik told The Press. “I had never given up as I know it can take years for a nesting pair to use it.

“This fall I was able to observe a pair cautiously check out the box,” he said. “The female laid eggs around late February, early March. Incubation period is roughly around 30 days.

“After seeing the mother leave the box for the first time in a month I knew the eggs had hatched. Barred owls can lay anywhere from one to five eggs. Finally, late April, I was able to see movement in the box and eventually saw three owlets emerge.

“It has been pretty exciting observing the mother hunt nearby and bring food to her young. We have watched her bring chipmunks, snakes, turtles, worms and squirrels.,” he said.

“Owls are silent hunters and usually very quiet in the air. They are very patient and I have observed the mother perched on a branch for more than three hours waiting for something to catch. They are active all day but usually are most active at dusk.”

Barred owls are found across the eastern United States and in western Canada. They are said to live in the same area all their lives.

“The Barred Owl’s hooting call, ‘Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?’ is a classic sound of old forests and treed swamps,” says the Cornell Lab’s All About Birds website.

Enjoying the nature show with Kralik, a native Ridgefielder and 2005 Ridgefield High School graduate who works in sales, is his wife, Kaitlyn, a first grade teacher at Greens Farms Academy in Westport. They have two sons, Robbie, age two, and Matthew, three months.

The owls aren’t all they see, living on property that backs up to 22 acres of Ridgefield Land Conservancy wetlands that lie between West Lane — behind the deli — and stretch to the intersection of St. Johns Road and Silver Spring Road.

“We have an abundant amount of wildlife, to say the least,” Kralik told The Press. “I have seen and photographed bears, bobcats, three species of owls, hawks, deer, turkeys, coyotes, fisher cats, otters and much more in my backyard.”