February 6, 2013
OF COURSE, THE FACT THAT THEY INTERBREED...:
Owl vs. Owl : Should the government shoot the spotted owl's new enemy, the barred owl? (Charles Bergman, Feb. 5, 2013, Slate)
The new threat comes from the barred owl, which has moved into the Pacific Northwest and become a neighborhood bully. The species was once found only in the East, but over the past several decades, barred owls made their way across the prairies. The first barred owl was reported in Washington in 1965. In Oregon, 1974. In California, 1981. No one is really sure why they came. They may have crossed the prairie by using human-altered landscapes--managed forests, suburbs--as stepping stones across once-inhospitable grassland. Once they arrived in the West, some research suggests that they first took hold in logged areas and then spread to other habitats.Though they are members of the same genus of owl--Strix--the two species are very different, like spots and stripes. The spotted owl is friendly, slow to reproduce, and tragically limited to a narrow ecological niche of old-growth forests.The barred owl is a supremely adaptable generalist. It's also a feisty breeding machine. Barred owls have been seen chasing spotted owls out of their territories, even attacking them. Then they take over.
...means that they aren't even different species after all.
Posted by Orrin Judd at February 6, 2013 8:35 PM