Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A long-winded..owl story

Saturday afternoon, my husband and I went on an "owl prowl" that was being held at one of the local nature centers. We took only binoculars, knowing that weekend walks usually bring out the crowds and I felt the guide would probably appreciate it if some people showed up with only binoculars and their curiosity. I had also read that owls have been known to have a heart attack from the stress they get when people try to get too close or bother them, so, I felt, the less cameras the better....
I knew we would be visiting a park, that is close to where I live, where a great-horned owl is known to be nesting. Using spotting scopes, we were able to not only see her but also her mate!! Such amazing colors!! Absolutely stunning to see and such huge eyes..Grandma!!
I went back yesterday and from about a 1/4 of a mile away, and my 300mm lens, I was able to get these shots of her.

I then drove to a field filled with pine trees that was several miles away. One of the people I met on the walk shared that long-eared owls had been seen in this field. I quietly walked around for about an hour and luck was with me, thank goodness, as I spotted this owl sitting high in the tree. I couldn't believe how nervous I was..had I really spotted a long-eared owl?? It was way up there and partially hidden by many branches. I realized I was shaking when I took these pictures.. as its tail feathers are kinda blurry!! The patterns and colors of this creature were absolutely gorgeous. I had turned off the flash and knew my camera was only making small clicking noises when I took a picture, but, you know, neither of the three owls, I caught in my photos, gave me any indication (such as moving or stretching) that I was bothering them...even though I knew..for sure.. THEY KNEW I was there!!
there are two owls in this picture...do you see the back of the one sitting in the upper left corner..all in all there were five owls in this tree..but I didn't want to overstay my welcome and felt they had been such good sports to let me take their pictures..so I quickly got out..
I ended up at the park I usually visit, where I had seen the screech owl last week....
This wood duck house is where we saw two screech owls during our "owl prowl" Jeeze, I have checked this house many times but never saw anything!! Go figure!! We sat behind this blind watching a grey-phase screech owl who had its head sticking out of the house opening..he was just adorable with his scrunched up face... when all of a sudden a red-phase screech owl poked its head out the same hole! YIKES!!.. that was the owl I had seen in the pine tree.. only the day before... how I WISH I had a camera at that moment!! So... yesterday I went back and sat in the blind and watched for a while but no occupants peeked out.. :(
...interestingly, though, if you click on this picture you will see a feather of a blue jay sticking out the lower right front of the box...an indication someone or both enjoyed an early morning snack?
This is NOT one of my pictures..( I borrowed it from a book) but it is a picture of a red phase screech owl..and looks just like the one I saw in the tree with the cardinal feathers...
I probably will be watching this wood duck house a lot in the future..as it looks like these two just might be nesting there..yipee!!

26 comments:

Lynne said...

Lucky you Tina!!!
I've seen neither a Screech or a Long-eared.
I sure do love your pix.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Youare so lucky to have gotten great photos of the owls.
Blessings,Ruth

CountryDreaming said...

They say birds are good at reading people's characters. The Long-eared Owls must have liked and understood you, to be so patient. That's quite a compliment. Definitely a wonderful series of owl adventures you had!

Philip said...

Great shots Tina I really like the last one :)

jalynn01 said...

What a delightful story and pictures. When my friend 'birdgirl' sees this she will just be crazy. She is ALWAYS looking for owls and I think you are hooked now too!! I just love the 4th picture where the owl looks like he is slouching against the tree! How sweet it looks. Loved this post!!

Leedra said...

We are going to be calling you the Owl Lady if you keep this up. Shelley has loons, and you have owls. How lucky you are.

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Bird Girl said...

OH MY GOSH -- FIVE OWLS in ONE TREE!!! You are the luckiest gal in the world to see that!!! I just loved this story and the pictures and I wish you had the camera when you saw the red and gray screeches! Wonderful, Tina!!!

dAwN said...

How very exciting! I am still awaiting an owl siting this year...can you send me one of yours?

Shellmo said...

I agree w/ leedra - you should be the owl lady! I was excited for you just reading your post - you're so patient and considerate of them - I would've loved to see these. Great photos of them in the trees too!!

fishing guy said...

Tina: Wonderful captures of the owls. I don't see them in Ohio except fake ones on fences.
It is a goose but I haven't seen a Titmouse since last Spring.

Marsha said...

I loved everything about this post! How lucky you were to spot all these owls. I was amazed to see the first one's nest and the long ears are just plain gorgeous. I look forward to seeing more of the screech owls at the nest box. I sure wished they only eat sparrows though.

Gail said...

How exciting and to be able to capture it...in photos, of course!

Tina said...

Lynne, thank u!! Hope you are staying warm!

Ruth, thanks, I feel lucky to have had this experience!

Countrydream, Loved your interpretation..I'm learning to be more patient!

Philip, you're funny!

Jane, He was leaning against that tree and seemed to be pretending to be asleep!!

Leedra, Without some inside info I would have never found these owls..haha..I'm just thankful I have the time to parade around these fields and parks..:)

Barb, I did think of you when I spotted these guys..wishing you could see them and tell me all you knew about them. I WILL get a pic of those two screeches at that box. I WILL, I WILL!

Dawn, would love to send you several..they would look lovely in the trees outside your homey!!

Shelley, thanks for your comments!!

Fishing guy, hope you are feeling better..looking forward to finding out that second answer!!

Marsha, Yea I'm with you about only eating sparrows..actually I read some where that the bigger owls fav food are skunks! ug! Thanks for visiting!!

Kelly said...

...I love owls and your photos are fantastic. The mama sitting on the nest melts my heart!

Kallen305 said...

Lucky you seeing those owls!! Nice pictures too. I didn't know owls would have heart attacks from stress. I am always careful when approaching birds because I don't want to disturb them. I will remember this info if I ever am lucky to run across one.

Eve said...

You are such a lucky birder Tina!!

Tina said...

Kelly, You are right Mamas are always special..:)

Kallen, I would be heart broken if I was the reason a bird left a nest or felt ill..I'm such a new birder that I always worry about where to draw the line when taking pictures of any animal.

Eve, I do feel I have been lucky! thanks for visiting!

The Birdlady said...

Wow! I get excited and shake too! Thank goodness for tripods!

NCmountainwoman said...

Five in one tree! And I can't find even one. Great post and wonderful photographs.

Abe said...

I used to work in my yard in the middle of the summer and could hear this soft, "Hoot" and an answer, "Hoot." I just smiled from ear to ear cause I knew there was a pair of hoot owls somewhere and they were talking to each other or telling each other, "I am still here."

Then the past couple of years I have not heard them.

I used to see a pair of Screech Owls here and got some photos of them in the opening of the old squirrel nesting box. But the box came down and the owls disappeared.

Now, the other day, I put up a kind of owl or squirrel box but it is very small in compared to the other. So far nothing has moved in.

I like owls a lot. Did you know that when they are not wanting to be mobbed by other birds that they will perch on a limb with their backs up against the tree trunk. I read that somewhere and guessed that is why I never see them in the wild. Looking in the wrong places. And then I see your photos of the owls a considerable distance from the tree trunks and the reason must be they are not being mobbed by other birds.

HANNIBAL said...

Me thinks you got the fever! I loved all of your owl pictures and story! I've been trying to catch a glimpse of some known LEO's but the trees are in an out-of-bounds area in my local state park. I would love to break the rules, but if everyone did that...

Fantastic post Tina!

The Tile Lady said...

Incredibly wonderful photos! How marvelous! I just would have died with joy!!!!!

Tina said...

Bird Lady, Well, along with a scope I have a tripod on my "want" list..but right now I'm my only bi-pod!

Helen,
Thanks for stopping by!!They say all of them will be moving north in a few weeks :(

Abe, Your information about owls is always appreciated. I was back again yesterday and all 5 of them were in about the same position in the SAME tree!!...I'm thinking this must be their roosting tree as a lot of their droppings and left overs, bones, partial dinners (?) laid at the bottom of the tree!

Yep, I've definitely got the bug..and you are right..shouldn't break the rules..

Marie, Hey girl, thanks for stopping by..!!

Neal said...

Great shots Tina. I used to go hunting at night and would hear a screech owl once in a while. If I hadn't known what it was I would have been scared a little. :)

George said...

I'm glad you went back and then to the field. These are great pictures!

jeannette St.G. said...

Once in a life time pics - -you were there at the right moment!!

would like to hear your thoughts..