Denver may see record heat today so that has me wanting for cooler temperatures and the increased wildlife activity they bring. Looking back on this past winter, there is no doubt that this Arctic visitor was the highlight.
It is rare for Snowy Owls to come this far south to Colorado but at least five different ones spotted in the Centennial State during the season. This particular one hung out for a few weeks in January in a suburb northwest of Denver.
The types of events that bring them here are called an irruption and while it isn’t perfectly clear what causes them, it is believed that a very successful summer breeding season results in an over-population of young owls in the Arctic. As a result, many head south in the winter in search of food.
It could be years before the next event like the most recent occurs but I will be anxiously awaiting and ready!
Here’s one for Snowy Owl Sunday and an image I haven’t shared before.
Taken late last year out on the northeastern plains of Colorado. At that time, a few of these had been spotted out there and one report had me hopping in my truck and high-tailing it two hours away on a moment’s notice.
It was perched way out in a field on a piece of irrigation equipment, too far away to get a decent view. Fortunately, the land owner happened to drive by and ask what I was looking at and once he knew, gave me permission to enter his property. That allowed me to get close enough to get some cool shots and this owl was completely comfortable with my presence, totally ignoring me. In fact, it slept the entire time with me only getting one or two captures of it with its eyes open.
After enjoying some time with this Arctic visitor, I let it be, right where I had found it and me going away thankful for the opportunity.
Note… I know there can be some controversy over approaching these types of creatures and the risk of stressing them. However, again, it was totally relaxed while I was there, only opening its eyes a couple of times, otherwise continuing to sleep and I made sure not to linger. Further, this image is taken at a very safe distance with the equivalent of a 960mm lens and the final image is cropped quite a bit. I am always extremely cautious about approaching wildlife and would never do so if I felt the animal was upset by my presence.
A fun image of this visitor to Colorado from the Arctic. It spent much of this particular afternoon perched on house in suburbia, primarily napping and enjoying what was actually a relatively nice day. Snow was not in the forecast and it was relatively sunny but suddenly a dark cloud moved over and light snow began falling. As it did, the Snowy Owl looked skyward, seeming to enjoy the change in weather.
It is rare for Snowy Owls to come this far south but this year there have been at least five different ones spotted in the Centennial State. The types of events that bring them here are called an irruption and while it isn’t perfectly clear what causes them, it is believed that a very successful summer breeding season results in an over-population of young owls in the Arctic. As a result, many head south in the winter in search of food.
I haven’t done too good of a job sharing pics of my relatively recent encounters with these Arctic visitors so here is a fun one.
This gorgeous Snowy Owl spent a few weeks hanging out in the area around a suburban lake. During the day, it decided the neighboring residential area was a nice place to sleep, oftentimes perching on top of homes’ roofs. On this afternoon, it did just that, much to my delight. It slept much of the time but did occasionally stir to look around. Here, it struggled to stay away letting loose with a nice, big yawn. 😉
It has been a few weeks since any of these awesome, rare creatures have been seen here in Colorado so either they are doing a good job staying hidden or they have started their trek back north for the spring and summer. It isn’t often that they come this far south so it was a real treat to get to spend time with them this winter. You can check out more of my pics of them here.
I promised more pics of this gorgeous creature and I might as well start with the best of the bunch.
Over two evenings last weekend I snapped hundreds of pictures of the Arctic visitor. It was these last images that I love the most. I had spent three plus hours watching and observing the owl as it sat on top of a house. It gave tons of cool poses, completely ignoring the humans below.
This was fun but we of course wanted to see it fly. Suddenly, it perked up and began paying a lot of attention to something in one of the backyards. I assume a dog or the like. That was enough to spur the owl into action and it took off directly at us!
It happened so fast I simply squeezed the trigger and hoped like I heck I caught the action. Some of the images were out of focus or cut off the wings but there were a good number of keepers that I hope you enjoy seeing.
Should you be interested in owning a print of one of these, please do let me know or head over to here.
Scroll down to view the complete sequence of images.
What an absolutely treat to spend not one but two evenings with this Arctic visitor recently. This guy has become quite a local celebrity as it has spent the last few weeks hanging out in a suburban area northwest of Denver. Despite multiple attempts, it wasn’t until Thursday and Friday that I was able to get some good pics of him.
On this evening, the fluffy, white owl was hanging out on a home’s roof. He spent much of the time sleeping and occasionally preening. Here, he gives a big shake showing just how thick a Snowy Owl’s plumage is – something that is needed in its normal home of the Arctic.
It is rare for Snowy Owls to come this far south to Colorado but this year there have been at least five different ones spotted in the Centennial State. The types of events that bring them here are called an irruption and while it isn’t perfectly clear what causes them, it is believed that a very successful summer breeding season results in an over-population of young owls in the Arctic. As a result, many head south in the winter in search of food.
I’ll have many more pics of this guy to share in the coming days. If you’re interested in a print of one of the images, be sure to let me know.
This guy (or gal) has caused quite a stir over the last couple of weeks. It was spotted right before Christmas northeast of Denver in a suburban park and lake area. Of course, once word got out, bird watchers and photographers soon descended. It is very rare for a Snowy Owl to come this far south so it wasn’t surprising to see the interest.
I have spent multiple days out there looking for it but on only one did I have any luck. It had nestled in among some tall grasses so I was never able to get a clear capture of the beautiful creature and the distance was hefty so these images are quite cropped.
At the end of my time with it, it did take off to an area further from the group that had gathered. By then the long shadows signifying the end of day had descended and the light was minimal so my flight shots were not good at all. Even if the pics aren’t the greatest, it was a treat to get to see this.
It was almost exactly two years ago that my son and I were on a photo drive and we spotted this odd, white clump of “snow” on a piece of oil equipment. As we went by, I realized what it was and became absolutely giddy. That day and then again a week later I was able to get some images of it. None of the pictures were extraordinary but the encounter itself was amazing as they rarely make it this far south to Colorado.
I was just reading an article that says that indications are that they may once again come a good ways south this winter. I can only hope! I’ll definitely be looking. For those interested, see here.
Well, actually it was yawning at the time this picture was taken on December 5. But I have no doubt this visitor from the Arctic would have preferred a whiter landscape.
Today it gets its wish as the Denver area is getting hit by a stronger-than-expected snowstorm.
Unfortunately this rare bird disappeared a couple of days after this picture was taken and it hasn’t been seen since. I’m sure it is still in the area but I have not been lucky enough to re-locate it.
Working together, some fellow shutterbugs and I were able to find a Snowy Owl in rural Adams County, Colorado yesterday. We were absolutely giddy with excitement, even if the owl stayed a good ways away and never let us get very close.
While I managed some ‘okay’ pics of just the owl, this particularly event was the most interesting. Out of the blue, a Northern Harrier flew in and started making high speed passes at the owl. It was clear the hawk did not appreciate the Arctic visitor intruding on its hunting grounds. It never did actually strike but came quite close and certainly made its feelings about the owl’s presence known.
It was a lot of fun to watch but I couldn’t help but be yelling inside, “leave the owl alone!” Snowy Owls are such a rarity, I didn’t want anything to scare if off. 😉