Sunday I went to check on my favorite pair of great horned owls. I was able to easily locate one of the two. It was clearly pretty worn out after a night of carousing and hunting, barely opening its eyes to acknowledge my presence. I looked and looked and could not find its mate. I don’t know for a fact but am thinking it was possibly in the nest cavity, already sitting on eggs. In years past when they started incubating, the female was a good ways down in there and not always visible. After last year’s disastrous results (the previous female passed away), I am hopeful for better results this year.
It is that time of year when the owls are starting to get frisky and preparing to settle down for the spring. I checked my favorite local nest on Sunday and was happy to find the pair napping after a night of hunting. Naturally, only one was willing to give me a clear shot. Last year I first saw the female in the nest the first week of February so we will see when she takes up residence this year.
Owls nest earlier than most other birds as, since they don’t build their own nests and usually take over those previously built by other raptors, they stake their claim early. This pair, however, has little to worry about as the previous spot they used is a tree cavity so there likely isn’t any interest from neighbors. I did get some cool, individual shots of this pair and will share them later.
Oh, how I wish I could! 😉
A couple weeks ago I shared a pic of one of a pair of great horned owls that seem to be returning to a common spot for them. This is the second of them.
It was far more well-hidden as you can tell from all the branches in the way and, well, clearly not particularly interested in posing for pictures. It gave me a glance then turned back around to resume its nap.
A favorite of just about anyone – and me – owls are elusive and extraordinarily fun to photograph. From the tiny burrowing owl to the larger long eared owls and great horned owls, I was able to photograph the three species multiple times over my past photo year. Here is a look at my personal favorite top 25 captures.
Seeing this owl – and its mate – made me so happy this past weekend. This is from the spot, some of you may recall, where the female was found deceased in the tree nest cavity last spring. Not long after, I saw that the male had already attracted another potential mate but in recent months, I had zero luck finding them. That changed last Friday when I spotted both of them (not sure which was which).
This one was in a relatively open spot, the other was well-buried. The three of us were enjoying some nice, quiet time. Unfortunately, we were interrupted by someone walking their monstrous dog off leash which then came bounding up to me. I ignored it, keeping watch on the owls’ reactions. They were not happy. I initially had a bit of a rant written from here on out about off-leash dogs and their owners that fail to keep them under control but I will bite my tongue. 😉
As much as I wish the story behind this photo was a happy one, it is not.
I was wrapping up one of my photo excursions last week when my brother texted about a great horned owl hanging out in one of his trees. That was too good of an opportunity to pass up so I headed right over. It was beautiful just sitting there, seeming to sleep off a night of hunting. As it wasn’t ‘doing’ anything exciting beyond sleeping, I moved on.
Ten minutes later my brother texted again. The owl was on the ground. Knowing that wasn’t normal, I went back.
It was clear something was wrong and soon it stopped moving. I immediately started making phone calls (thank you, Lori for the help!) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife came by not long after. Sadly, the owl had perished.
Testing has shown it didn’t have HPAI (bird flu) so that is good. No necropsy was done.
Oftentimes I see harsh, sad things happening in Mother Nature and it can be hard to see happen but, as they say, that is nature taking its course. In this case, I like to think the owl simply had lived a full, good life and its time had come.
As you venture out tonight, beware. Happy Halloween, everyone.
My family abandoned me yesterday evening (no Taylor Swift movie for me!) so I headed out to one of my favorite local open spaces for some fresh air and a walk. The fall foliage wasn’t quite ready for prime time so I decided to see if I could find one of my old friends. It probably would have escaped unnoticed but it made the mistake of hopping to a different branch. That, of course, did not disappoint me and it put itself right out in a near perfect spot.
The late afternoon light shining through the leaves looked awesome with one spot right on one of the owl’s eyes. The image also gives you a nice look at the business end (talons) of the owl that you would certainly not want to be on the wrong side of.
Finding these guys is rarely easy and this image shows one reason why – the owl’s plumage is a near perfect match for the cottonwood tree. Spotting this one was a bit easier than usual since it had opted for a spot somewhat in the open. That doesn’t happen often. This image was taken back in March, before the leaves on the trees had opened. If it were a month later when the leaves were open, I likely would never have spotted it. That is why during the summer I rarely am able to get owl pictures.
It has been a while since I shared a pic of these creatures of the night. This image goes back to early April, before the trees had their leaves and when it was much easier to spot them.
I had stopped by a local open space, figuring I might get lucky and find one of the resident great horned owls and indeed I did. Normally they don’t hang out in such an open spot but some crows and spotted it and chased it from its roost. For a brief period, it opted to hang out in a relatively clear area, allowing me to get some nice captures.