From the heart of the swamp ...
B.I.R.D.S. - Barred Owl
I was especially pleased that the first bird sculpture chosen for the BIRDS (Birds In Residence: Downtown Summerville) Program was the Barred Owl. The sculpture is now located on the balcony handrail below the Town Hall bell tower, but the real Barred Owl is the quintessential owl of Four Holes Swamp. Additionally, they are one of my favorite all time birds, and routinely observed along the boardwalk at Beidler Forest. It has been quite a few years since I have penned a From The Heart Of The Swamp column, but the BIRDS program has me inspired to introduce you all to the natural history of each selected BIRD as they are unveiled in the historic downtown district.
As a quick reminder… the BIRDS program is a partnership between the Audubon Center at Beidler Forest, Summerville DREAM and Sculpture in the South and designed to promote public art, support downtown businesses, and celebrate the birds and natural history of the Town. 20 life-like and life-sized bird sculptures will be hidden away throughout the historic district and participants will use a clue poem to find them and in the process, circumnavigate the four corners of downtown Summerville. Over the next several months, we hope to find sponsors and complete the purchase and installation of the remaining sculptures. Presently, two more sculptures have been purchased and are awaiting installation and sponsors have been identified for several more.
Named for the bars or bands of brown stripes on their chest, the Barred Owl is the only owl that actually lives and nests in the swamp. However, they are also common in and around Summerville. I have one nesting in the 10-acre woods adjacent to my back yard. I have a friend in town that had one fly into his house through the chimney! Barred Owls are probably the most daytime active of all the owl species. At Beidler Forest, it is not uncommon to hear them hooting, flying around, and hunting all day long. Generations have grown up around the boardwalk and know little fear of humans. Their standard call is a series of hoots described as having the same cadence as “Who cooks for you… Who cooks for you all?” They can also make a variety of individual hoots, and mated pairs can let loose with a caterwauling