Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Three Owls Within A Week

Winter may not be the most comfortable time to be out birding but it can be very fruitful, especially when it comes to owls.

Ironically, I was just returning from a favourite nature park (where there were no unusual sightings) when on the road home, a huge Snowy Owl was perched on a lamp standard at the side of the highway!  It required some dodgy maneuvers but I was able finally to get close enough to get some shots.  Based on the pure white plumage, the bird was a mature male.

Then, a few days later, I went up to the Mount Royal Cemetery and with the help of fellow photographers, found two Eastern Screech Owls.  One was high up in the cavity of a tree and seemed sound asleep until a crow flew too close and in a flash he ducked inside the cavity (to emerge a little while later).

The most exciting sighting was that of the mate to this owl who was only about eight feet off the ground on the side of a jagged part of a tree trunk.  I walked through deep snow to get close enough for several great shots (and a couple of shaky videos (I was too excited)).  

An interesting fact about these small owls is that, when nervous, they stretch themselves as tall as possible and raise their "ear" tufts which is an attempt at camouflage.  You can see this in the following photograph.

A few seconds later it was more calm (as below).

With any luck, there will be little owlets this spring!