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.
A captive eastern screech owl poses with some nice fall colors in the background. Going back almost exactly one year ago to a photo shoot I did with a number of raptors from a local non-profit, including this cutie.
While I have photographed these owls in the wild, the event gave me the opportunity to really get some nice pics, focusing on composition and quality. You couldn’t ask for a prettier setting or cuter photo subject.
Well, all ear tufts anyway. When you see an owl with its “ears” up, those are not actually its ears nor are they horns. They are tufts of feathers and have nothing to do with hearing. Ornithologists believe they may serve a couple of purposes.
One being to camouflage the owl, helping to break up the solid line of its head. Two, it is thought that they may be used as a form of communication between owls with position and movement of the tufts possibly indicating safety or danger.
While I have photographed eastern screech owls many times in the wild, this particular one is a captive bird. It is owned by a local non-profit, HawkQuest, and I had the opportunity to photograph it back in October. Such a cool little dude and the fall foliage behind it really made for a nice scene.
Well, now look at this little cutie. I have photographed these owls in the wild numerous times before but always with them sitting in a tree cavity and often with their eyes closed as they sleep during the day.
Yesterday I took part in a raptor photo shoot with a local non-profit, HawkQuest , and their captive eastern screech owl was one of the subjects. This gave me the opportunity to photograph one out in the open and wide awake.
I only do these types of events every couple of years. Certainly I don’t usually need help find photo subjects in the wild but the chance to photograph these cool birds in a controlled environment is nice. It allows me to take my time working on composition and exposure, a luxury you don’t usually get with a wild bird. There were some other cool birds as well and you will be seeing them in the days to come.
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.
If you’re looking for an action-packed photo subject, these little owls are not it. They are only active at night and once that sun comes up, they sleep and sometimes show themselves soaking in the sun.
However, in terms of cuteness, the screech owl can hang with the best of them and sometimes you get lucky and see one open its eyes. I watched this one for an hour and other than turning its head, it never showed much life – until a dog came rustling through near its tree. That at least got it to briefly and slightly open its eyes while it checked out the intruder.
This particularly eastern screech owl was a new one to me thanks to a tip from a friend. I continue to search for my “own” screech owl but have not had any luck yet. The day will come though I am sure. Well, I hope! 😉
A quick stop on Christmas Eve to check on this little one.
This eastern screech owl has itself a nice tree cavity to call home. During the day, it sits in the opening, enjoying the warmth of the sun.
There rarely is much action to be seen though as it pretty much just sleeps. In fact, watching it is about as exciting as watching paint dry. 😀 Despite that, it is fun to see something that few others do.
These little guys are quite common but they are very adept at staying hidden. You can see how well camouflaged they are blending in with the tree. When I first learned about this particular owl a few years ago, I circled the tree five times and couldn’t spot it. Thankfully a passerby pointed it out to me.
Another photo subject worthy of their own slideshow as I look back on my top shots of 2019. Everyone loves owls, right?
I was very fortunate to have captured three different species of them with my camera.
The tiny, almost always sleepy, eastern screech owl is by far the hardest to find. Burrowing owls come to the plains in the spring and are one of the most entertaining forms of wildlife you could ever hope to see. Then, of course, you have the common but way cool great horned owl of which I was fortunate enough to observe a few, cool nests.
One of two of these cool little owls that I went and visited recently. Both seem to enjoy hanging out in their tree cavity, soaking in the morning sun. Both also usually keep their eyes closed and don’t provide for much excitement. This one though seemed to take umbrage with a dog that walked right under its nest and that was enough to get it to open its eyes – briefly. These little guys are only between 6 and 10 inches tall but have a wingspan that get stretch out to 24 inches.
How is this for blending into your surroundings? These cool owls are small to begin with then when you see just how closely their coloring matches the trees, you can see why they are rarely seen.
When I first went to find this little guy (or gal), I walked around the tree five times without seeing it. It was only when someone else pointed it out to me did I find it.
That was last year and I was very happy to learn it was back in the same spot this year so I had to pay it a visit last weekend. It spent the entire time with its eyes closed, soaking in the warmth of the early morning sun.