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.
Sometimes I take pics and then get sidetracked and forget to come back and share them. Such was the case with the images of this cool, little dude that I took way back at the end of February.
It had its nest in the hollowed out part of this tree and wasn’t shy about coming out and taking in the warmth of the sun. It was a very fun experience to photograph this rarely seen bird.
Screech Owls are common east of the Rockies and can be found in just about any place there is a tree. They are well camouflaged and like most owls, active at night.
This past weekend I was ecstatic to see not just one, but two of these awesome little owls in the wild. They were in fact the first non-captive screech owls I have ever seen. Both are found within two different suburban parks southwest of Denver, Colorado and while one was relatively easy to spot in its cavity, this one was much harder to locate.
As you can see, it fills the cavity and unless you knew where it was, you would be hard pressed to find it. In fact, I walked right by it three times before finally locating it. It spent the vast majority of the time I was with it sleeping, with very little movement.
However, for some unknown reason, at one point it woke up and began making the distinctive ‘trill’ call they are known for. After a few minutes, it closed its eyes and went right back to sleep. So much fun to see – and hear!
What do they sound like? Check out this page from Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website here.
Check out this little dude! Arktos is an Eastern Screech Owl, a fairly common but rarely seen type of owl. I personally have never seen one before the day of this photo shoot and now I know why – they are tiny! Making finding them even more difficult is the fact that they typically nest in tree cavities and as you can tell by its coloring, it would blend in quite well with one.
Arktos is a captive bird, owned by Nature’s Educators, a non-profit wildlife education group. His parents were unable to care for him and his brother and as a result, the owlets became human imprinted when hand-raised and could not be released into the wild.
I was absolutely amazed at how fast this little guy could fly. It made getting an in-flight capture very, very challenging to say the least.