Well, I don’t know that I have ever heard of any owl of any type looking happy. This kind of look is pretty much par for the course for them. This particular owl was hanging near its mate, right in the thickest brush as long eared owls are known to do. Despite its look at this moment, it largely ignored me, even falling asleep at one point. This image does give you a good idea of how long eared owls got their name as those tufts are standing at attention.
When I say, ‘chilling out’, if you look close, you can see I mean that quite literally. Check out the frost that had gathered on its face and on its ears!
Taken a few weeks ago when temperatures had plunged into the single digits and a hoar frost was coating the landscape – and the owls.
I’ve had a few encounters with these cool owls this past winter and am thankful for them as they are very elusive and it usually takes a lot of work to get any sort of a decent capture of them given their propensity to hide in the densest brush possible.
What is the cause for alarm? Humans? Nope, those pesky magpies.
This beautiful owl was quite comfortable with me photographing it from a respectable distance. Unfortunately for it, magpies and taken note of its presence and were raising quite a ruckus. While their harassment was largely in the form of making a lot of noise at the long eared bird, a couple did take dives at it, trying to drive it off.
The owl really presents little threat to the other birds, instead focusing on rodents for its primary food source. That, however, did not put the magpies at ease.
“You wanna piece of me?” A long-eared owl giving quite a serious look and seems ready to take on the photographer. Of course, I think owls almost always look serious, never happy.
There are a number of these cool creatures of the night that have popped up at a hotspot not far from Denver, closer than the usual location I find them. Since I hadn’t gotten decent pics of them recently, I checked them out this past weekend.
Light was kind of cruddy and I kept my visit brief so as not to stress them out but, as always, they provided some entertaining looks. Loved how serious this one seems to be and you get at least a little bit of a view of those ferocious talons.
As I do every year, I close things out with recap videos of some of the cool photo subjects I have photographed during my photo year (Oct – Sep). Kicking things off, let’s go with a subject everyone loves – owls! I was fortunate to photograph five species of owls during the period from the diminutive burrowing owl and eastern screech owl to bigger long eared owls, a short eared owl (captive) and great horned owls. Enjoy the show and keep an eye out for a new slideshow each day through the end of the year.
Yesterday’s photo outing had me cover 160 miles and while it wasn’t nearly as productive as I had hoped, I did get to spend some time with these cool masters of camouflage in the 7 degree early morning temperatures (brrr!).
These cool owls bury themselves in the thickest of brush to conceal themselves and getting a clear shot of them is almost impossible. I had quite a few sightings yesterday but only a couple were in a spot where I could get any sort of decent pic, this being one of them.
While at this point it was clearly watching me, it also was pretty relaxed, dozing off at a couple of points during my encounter with it.
Looking for something “different” from my recent photo subjects, I am jumping back to March for this capture.
The long-eared owls at this spot on Colorado’s northeastern plains are always a highlight for me, even if they require an extraordinary amount of time and effort to get pictures of.
On this morning, I spotted a few in this dense stand of Russian olive trees. Getting a clear shot of them though was an entirely different matter. I only managed a few and this is one of them.
The magpies in the area had also found them and the little black birds were not too keen to have the owls in the area. They made quite a racket in their effort to get the owl to leave and that in turn put it on high alert. This shot does give you a nice look at those deadly talons, something you don’t normally get to see.
When you are out carousing all night, you spend your day sleeping and trying to recover. No doubt that is what this owl was doing and it found a perfect place to hide. No matter where I moved, I could not get any clearer shot of it than this and it seemed to know it. While it cracked its eyes open briefly, it soon closed them and went right back to sleep.
This wide-eyed long eared owl was definitely focused on the photographer.
My last two attempts to visit with these guys had not gone so well. The first time I only saw one and it just didn’t want to make itself available for pics. The last time, I saw none at all. Looking for something different to do this past weekend, I decided I needed to try again so I headed to the northeastern Colorado plains.
Finally, I had some success. They did not make it easy by any means. It took a half hour crawling through thick Russian olive trees to find them but, once I did, it was worth it. I spent the next hour with five of them and while I never got any truly clear views of them, they did give me some decent captures. This particular one seemed a bit surprised to have been discovered. 😉
Owls hold a special fascination for many and for good reason. Most are nocturnal and professionals at staying hidden during the day so they aren’t easily seen. As a photographer, it is quite challenging to photograph the. This past photo year I was able to photograph three species: Long eared owls, great horned owls and burrowing owls.
I struggled a bit with the great horned owls, more than usual, but found some worthy subjects and the burrowing owls gave me some nice flights shots, something which I have struggled with in the past. I hope you enjoy this look back at my favorite captures of 2021 of these mysterious creatures.