An image from a series I have been sitting on for four months to protect these birds.
A friend and I discovered a pair of long eared owls along a trail and one of them was none too happy when walking by. Owls will puff up like this as a way to make themselves look bigger and more intimidating to warn off possible threats. It seemed clear this pair was preparing to nest in a thick stand of trees right next to the trail.
While the trail doesn’t get a lot of usage, it probably would get enough to disturb them and prevent a successful nesting. As a result, we decided it best to reach out to the authorities so they could verify nesting was occurring and handle accordingly. The rangers did and opted to shut down the trail, allowing the pair to remain undisturbed. I don’t know if the owls were successful in their efforts but hope they were.
While it was hard to essentially lock ourselves out of a prime photo opportunity of these rarely seen owls, it was the right thing to do and I am glad we made that decision.