Last weekend, on a ride down to Rhode Island to pick up my fiancé, I stopped at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge near Newport to see a continuing Barn Owl...I had never seen one before, so I figured this would be a good opportunity to pick up a lifer. There have been a handful of Snowy Owls in the same location recently, and news of these owls has brought a lot of birders and tourists to the spot in hopes of seeing an owl. Around 4:00 PM the Barn Owl revealed itself as it swiftly grabbed up a mouse and was immediately harassed by a Snowy Owl AND a Northern Harrier. There were immediate gasps of astonishment from the gallery of birders nearby to see three amazing raptors all at once in an aerial tussle for a meal. All of the cameras started firing off like a line of machine guns...everyone made gleeful noises of excitement.
...The Snowy was definitely interested in eating the Barn Owl as well as its rodent prey, so the Harrier may have in fact saved the Barn Owl's life by distracting the Snowy. The clash only lasted about 15 seconds, and once the Barn Owl flew down, it never flew up again. Seeing either a Snowy, or a Barn Owl individually is a fantastic experience for any birder, so seeing both owls dancing with a Northern Harrier was an unexpected and welcomed treat...the kind of thing you only see once. I'm glad I was there to catch it!