A barred owl was last seen on Martha’s Vineyard on Nov. 8, 1948, almost 68 years ago. And that was only the third sighting of this species on the Island since 1918.

Barred owl are in the genus Strix; they hunt for rodents in mixed wooded areas. — Lanny McDowell

But now a fourth has been confirmed.

On April 14, Elaine and Joel Graves heard an unusual owl call which they identified as a barred owl, so they recorded it on their phone. The next day, Mr. Graves emailed the recording to me.

It was not the typical barred owl call, which is typically deciphered as “Who cooks for-you, who cooks for-you-awl.” This recording was lacking the last syllable, but the cadence of the other deep hoots was recognizable. Since this species has not been seen for so long, the email was forwarded to a few birders for confirmation. Wayne Petersen, the director of Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Important Birds Areas Project and a well-respected birder, confirmed the identification.

Barred owls are becoming more common in Massachusetts, as is reflected in data from the Federal Breeding Bird Surveys and Mass Audubon’s breeding bird atlases. Only recently has this species colonized upper Cape Cod. It is thought that the lack of mature swampy woodlands, its preferred habitat, explains its historic absence.

To protect this owl, which is easily disturbed, the location of this bird is not yet public. Future bird news columns will provide more information about this rare sighting.