Owls have such awesome names. I do think the one I saw was a Barred, because I have heard it screeching. In general, though, owls are not my bird. My favorite (common) birds:
1. Great Blue Heron
2. Red-tailed Hawk
3. Red-winged blackbird
These birds are all found plentifully near Buffalo, which is where I first began watching birds; it was the heron who first won me. On his Transient Views of Western New York, Terry Cuddy has some awesome heron footage from the path behind Ellicott at UB (mostly of territory wars).
I have loved other birds. But always the heron, always the hawk. I’m also a fan of the Raven, since it brought us light (this is a slightly different story than the one I’ve heard, but you get the picture). And I like less usual birds, who could turn away a rainbow lorikeet?
There are lots of hawks in Western New York. The most I have seen in a day was 22, of which 20 were red-tailed. Driving, one can see them on a clear day sunning themselves in trees on the roadside, you can pace off their ranges and know when to expect the next one. I have been within inches of these birds and they are huge and scary and wonderful. When they are hunting, to feel the rush of their wings unexpectedly behind you is awesome, in the traditional sense of the word.