A barred owl’s death on a bush hook – February 6, 2017

Bush hooks or bush bait hooks are fishing lines with a hook attached to overhanging branches over a waterway and allowed to sink into the water.

According to the regulations of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission bush hooks, setlines and trotlines (limited to 25 hooks total) are permitted in freshwater fishing areas.  However, these “must be clearly and legibly marked with the harvester’s name and address while being used or possessed in or upon the waters of the state. ”

This owl was photographed off a small creek branch just before entering Womack Creek, Tate’s Hell State Forest.  It had been caught on a bush hook and became entangled in the overhanging tree branches.

The Cornell Ornithology lab says that barred owls are thought to mate for life.  They nest in tree cavities.  They have one brood a year with the female laying 1-5 eggs.  They prefer older forests.

When tent camping in Womack Creek campground, campers used to hear a pair of barred owls calling to each other from dusk through the night.  It is a lulling sound and you could have found yourselves falling asleep,  listening to these calls.

A few weeks later, we returned to the campground to camp.  We did not hear the owls’ call.

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