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Wildlife

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Barn Owl makes a happy landing

That face! So cute and it certainly looks to be one happy raptor. Humans do tend to project our emotional reactions and our perceptions onto animals when we really have no idea what they are ‘feeling’ but you can’t help it with this image.

This particular owl was a participant at a photo workshop I took back in October. Cupid is two years old and was captive bred for educational programs and he now serves as an ambassador for Wild Wings Environmental Education.

These medium-sized owls can be found across most of the globe, including the contiguous United States. They typically remain out of sight roosting in tree cavities, dense stands of trees and of course barns and other buildings.

A Bark Owl extends its landing gear as it prepares to touch down. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bark Owl extends its landing gear as it prepares to touch down. (© Tony’s Takes)

Relaxed Bald Eagle shows off one of its weapons

The talons on these creatures are nothing short of impressive. Getting a close look at them helps you understand why they are so effective – and deadly. When they are relaxed, eagles oftentimes will hold on to their perch with one talon then lift the other up and tuck it inside their feathers. Such was the case with this guy last month which is why you only see one. He didn’t give a hoot about me being there and was quite content and relaxed.

Bald Eagles are believed to have a grasp capable of exerting an astonishing 400psi. By comparison, the average human’s hand comes in around 20psi. Needless to say, when an eagle latches on to a rabbit, prairie dog or fish, the prey isn’t very likely to get away.

A close up look at one of the talons on a Bald Eagle. (© Tony’s Takes)

A close up look at one of the talons on a Bald Eagle. (© Tony’s Takes)

Fantastic flyby for Freedom Friday

Last weekend I was observing this beautiful lady and her mate. Things were awfully quiet for the longest time as for the most part they sat still but then they decided to try fishing in a nearby pond. Neither was successful but the female gave this absolutely fantastic sequence of her as she approached and then flew by.

This is probably one of my best in-flight Bald Eagle pics I have ever captured. The light was just about perfect and coming from the right direction as she approached and flew by. Focus is pretty much spot on showcasing the beautiful detail in the bird’s plumage. A whispy streak of clouds help to just ever so slightly break up the solid blue Colorado skies.

Have a great weekend!

A female Bald Eagle returns to her roost after a failed fishing trip. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Bald Eagle returns to her roost after a failed fishing trip. (© Tony’s Takes)

One for National Puppy Day

I can’t say I have ever heard of “National Puppy Day” but I guess that is what it is. I don’t have many pics of pups beyond my own dogs so dug into the archives for this one. I reckon it also works for #TBT as it was taken in early May of last year. This cutie Red Fox and its litter-mates were playing in a suburban front yard and my friend was kind enough to let me know so I rushed over. The sun was already below the horizon so light was dim but I managed a few okay captures including this one. So darned cute!

A Red Fox kit watches its brothers and sisters play in a suburban yard. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red Fox kit watches its brothers and sisters play in a suburban yard. (© Tony’s Takes)

Mama has a hard time staying awake

Great Horned Owls are some of the most adaptive owls out there. They have proven that they can survive – and indeed thrive – despite humans oftentimes intruding on their territory. This pretty lady proves that.

She and her mate have chosen to make their home not 50 yards from Interstate 25, the main north-south highway through the state of Colorado. Certainly trees here on the plains can be relatively scarce so they didn’t have a lot of options however one would think they would have preferred someplace at least a bit secluded. Instead, their nest is in full view of passers-by on the highway and a frontage road goes almost right under their nest.

The good thing for someone like me is that I get to watch with very easy access. When I saw her this past Saturday, she seemed to be sitting up high in the nest which may mean there are little ones underneath her. I will definitely have to keep a close eye on the progress.

A female Great Horned Owl has a hard time staying awake while sitting on her nest north of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Great Horned Owl has a hard time staying awake while sitting on her nest north of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Goose gets very territorial

I was sitting observing a pair of my favorite bird (you know what kind) when there was suddenly a bit of action right in front of me. One Canada Goose had decided to claim a section of the pond as its own and wasn’t willing to let any other geese in. It comes flying in at another pair of geese landing right on top of another. As those two headed off for a different spot, the aggressor gave pursuit. It was a pretty fun sequence and their aggressiveness was clearly on display as they prepare to mate and lay eggs soon. Taken at St Vrain State Park, Colorado.

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A Canada Goose chases after other geese that were intruding on its territory. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Canada Goose chases after other geese that were intruding on its territory. (© Tony’s Takes)

Little Bighorn keeps watch from on high

Bighorn Sheep lambs may not be all that big but they are nearly as adept at climbing as the adults. The rugged landscape of Colorado’s foothills is a great place for the young ones to learn and while a human would struggle, the lambs scale the rocks and steep slopes with ease. This young ram was more interested in playing with some of the other young members of the herd but did stop to check out the photographers gathered below.

Found across much of western North America, Bighorn Sheep are adept mountain climbers, best known for the adult male ram’s monstrous horns. While the animals are social, rams and ewes typically only meet during mating season. Diseases from European livestock and overhunting had caused the animal’s population to drop precipitously by the early 1900s. Thankfully #conservation efforts have been successful in helping the sheep rebound since then.

A curious Bighorn Sheep lamb keeps watch from the side of a mountain.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A curious Bighorn Sheep lamb keeps watch from the side of a mountain. (© Tony’s Takes)

Red-tailed Hawks make some noise

I was actually looking for owls when I came across this pair of raptors. There was no nest in sight but they sure did not seem to appreciate me being around so I snapped some quick pics and retreated. Skies were overcast so not the prettiest of backgrounds but the birds themselves looked gorgeous. Taken in Thornton, Colorado.

A Red-tailed Hawk screeches as it flies overhead. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk screeches as it flies overhead. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk flies overhead. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk flies overhead. (© Tony’s Takes)

The eagle has landed!

The eagle has landed! From a couple of weeks ago and a visit I made to my favorite nest. Having just done his duty delivering a meal to mama, this guy hopped away and landed on a nearby branch. You get a good look at those impressive meat hooks that these cool raptors have. Those beautiful Colorado skies provide a nice backdrop.

A Bald Eagle prepares to grab its perch as it lands on a tree. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle prepares to grab its perch as it lands on a tree. (© Tony’s Takes)

Young Bald Eagle on the hunt, returns with a meal

This was a rather fun encounter from early last month. This juvenile Bald Eagle was hanging out across the road from a small pond, clearly keeping an eye out for an opportunity to snag its breakfast. As I watched it, it focused its laser beam stare on the far side of the pond and took off at a furious pace. I captured an entire sequence of images as it launched and flew by. It’s chosen hunting ground was too far away for me to get pictures of it snagging its catch but with its meal firmly in its grasp it flew right back by me. The first image is of the raptor as it departed to hunt, the second is of it on its return trip with a small fish in its talons. Have a great weekend!

A juvenile Bald Eagle heads off to do some fishing in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Bald Eagle heads off to do some fishing in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Bald Eagle returns with a fish in its talons in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Bald Eagle returns with a fish in its talons in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

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