A look back at my personal favorite captures of these (usually) nocturnal birds taken during my 2020 photo year. Owls seem to capture the imagination unlike any other bird, probably due to the fact that while they are common, many go unseen. I know I certainly love taking their picture. Among the types of owls I photographed were the common great horned owl, the summer visiting burrowing owl and the lesser seen screech owl and barn owl.
Harkening back to March 15th for this image of one of these very elusive, secretive owls.
For years I had heard about these guys hanging out at a spot on the northeastern plains of Colorado but despite multiple visits, I never could find them. This past winter / spring, I finally did.
There were at least a half dozen that had made a very dense thicket of Russian olive trees their home for the season. As I worked my way through the trees (getting stabbed routinely by the dang things) I finally found my long-sought after photo subject.
Most often they were in the thickest, densest part of the trees making spotting them nearly impossible. Sometimes I would find myself only 10 feet away and not even know they were there until they flew off.
On this particular morning, I got lucky and this one was in a relatively open area and stuck around long enough to give me some nice, full shots of it. Judging by its wide eyes, I don’t know that it was thrilled that I had found it. 😉 The image does also give you a good idea as to how the long eared owl got its name.
A capture from my most recent visit a couple weeks ago to check out these guys. I ended up getting some nice captures of them as they did their best to stay well-hidden among Russian olive trees (ouch!).
These owls have a number of different “looks” to them. Usually they stand kind of tall and skinny and have a cute look. However, sometimes they kind of squat down and puff out like in this shot. It kind of makes them look a bit mean I think. 😉
Spotting owls is oftentimes a challenge, sometimes more difficult than others. Yesterday I headed to the northeastern plains of Colorado, hoping to get another change to observe and photograph long eared owls.
I had some luck, grabbing a few decent pics. This one though, really highlights the challenge in finding these owls in particular as they will seek out the thickest foliage possible.
I almost missed these two (do you see them?). In fact, as I looked into the thicket, I saw what looked like one but wasn’t even sure so I took a pic and then had to play it back on my camera and zoom in on the screen to verify. Masters of camouflage indeed!
One more from my encounter with the long eared owls on the Colorado plains.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it took a lot of work and I only came away with a few decent captures. This one has to be my favorite and judging by the look on its face, it was as surprised to see me as I was it.
These guys were so buried in this thick brush they were almost impossible to spot until you were right up on them. At one point, I am crouched over, working my way through the shrubbery and I look up and there this one was, not 30 feet away. I was able to grab just a couple quick shots before it headed off to a more concealed area.
A fun encounter for sure!
Finally! I knew for years these cool owls wintered at a spot in northeastern Colorado but had never had any luck finding them. That changed yesterday!
A friend provided me some tips to help narrow down the search area that helped greatly. The owls definitely didn’t make it easy on me though as I had to work my way through some very dense brush, much of which was pokey Russian olive trees.
Once well inside the stand of trees and bushes though, I started to see the long-eared owls and there had to have been at least a half dozen of them. Of course spotting them and being able to get a picture are two very different things.
These guys are notorious for their ability to hide. I spent an hour and a half trying and came away only with a few decent shots, none of which gave a truly clear look at them. Nevertheless, given that this is only the third or fourth time I have ever seen any at all, I came away pretty pleased.
As I prep for my end of year photo projects (calendars, books, etc), I am going back and sorting through images taken over the past 10 months or so. This morning I came across this one from back in February that I had not shared with you.
These were two of four Long Eared Owls that wintered in a nearby state park. I was not as fortunate as some photographers and never got a truly clear shot of them. Nevertheless, they sure were fun to see.
Finally! Last year I heard about some of these cool creatures hanging out in a Denver area state park but despite multiple attempts, I never did see them. In recent weeks, they were seen again and I decided to try once more on Saturday.
This time I was rewarded with an opportunity to see and photograph them. There were actually four within a small area, all nestled within some very thick brush. Only one was truly visible where I could get a picture.
The event was definitely short on action as it simply slept the entire time I observed it, occasionally turning its head and never opening its eyes. Nevertheless, it was a first for me to get to see a Long Eared Owl so I was pretty happy. Definitely makes me want to go back to try again.
These medium-sized owls are found across North America, year-round in the western United States and Canada but only in the winter east of the Rockies and in Mexico. Like most owls, they are nocturnal and during the winter, as I witnessed, will oftentimes roost communally.
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