Monday, April 04, 2011

A Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl (look closely) (Bubo virginianus) (1 of 7).jpg
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

I was on my way to the store on Chamberlin Road (on the other side of the mountain from us) when I passed a barn on the left and saw a huge bird slowly flying over the road. I knew it wasn't a crow, raven or hawk. It perched in a pine tree on the right side of the road, and I saw that it was a great horned owl! My first full sighting! I have seen them at night while driving but never in the day. I was thrilled. And to make it better, I even had my camera with me as I nearly always do. I got into position, got the window down quietly, got the camera settings right for the light . . . and realized I didn't have my 250mm lens! Well, I used to photograph long shots with 50mm before I got the big lens, and I couldn't not photograph the bird, so I began. At the moment I lifted the camera, the owl flew off. It perched in a pine tree further away — too far for any good shots.

Great Horned Owl (look closely) (Bubo virginianus) (2 of 7).jpg

I reported my sighting to everybody (of course). And everyone was very pleased to know that the owl was there. I began to get reports from other people of where else I could find these owls. But nothing has turned up. Owls don't travel huge distances so you can be pretty certain of seeing one again where you saw one before. But you have to be patient and wait a long time. Owls are easier to see in the winter because they leave the forest and go to the farms to hunt there. Great horned owls are the mortal enemies of crows, which is why when you see a murder of raucous crows, they are either hollering about a hawk or an owl. But in the winter, our crows go to the cities for food. One of the signs of spring here is the return of the crows. They are usually the first to return, presumably because they spent their winters closer by.

Great Horned Owl (look closely) (Bubo virginianus) (4 of 7).jpg

Great Horned Owl (look closely) (Bubo virginianus) (6 of 7).jpg

The hunt for owls is a perpetual hunt. I hope this summer we have time to put barn owl nest boxes up. Photographing an owl, any owl, will be much easier if they live in my barn!

Great Horned Owl (look closely) (Bubo virginianus) (5 of 7).jpg


1 comment:

  1. Good try! I haven't seen an owl around here. Must have a look.
    The heron are back, tho'. Once it stops raining I shall go out there!


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