This time of year, the weather gets cooler, the leaves fall from the trees, and the days get shorter and darker. No worries. Owl season has begun.
Today was the best. It started when I found this Barred Owl hunting at the side of a field.
It moved through the wet field, swooping from tree to tree. The fields are full of voles, the owl’s favourite snack.
Owls are surprisingly difficult to see in this type of setting. In the photo above I did not know the owl was in front of me until I was eye to eye with it. I moved back, as it kept a close eye on me but did not fly away.
It blends right into the tree it is sitting on because of its feather patterns. I never get over this. What an amazing adaptation. Maybe that is why it is so much fun to find owls. It is challenging for sure.
I left this owl alone to continue its hunting. When I got back to the car I realized my feet and pants were soaked and muddy and covered with burrs. Typical.
Next I decided to walk in the woods and see if I could find any owls there. I couldn’t believe it – about 10 minutes into the walk I found another owl. Or should I say, it found me. Look how cute it is peeking down through the branches at me.
Judging by how this owl was poking its head out, curiously watching me and climbing around in the trees, I am pretty sure it was a young one. I could see that it has been eating well by the blood on its beak, so that’s a good thing.
It actually flew out to a more open location to have a good stare at me. Well hello there!
As hard as it was, I left this curious little owl alone, resting all fluffed up in a tree. It will need all its energy come night time.
I headed home, got cleaned up, and then received a very pleasant surprise. A birding friend called me to say he had located an Eastern Screech Owl and asked if I would like to come see it. Well YES!
Apparently the blue jays had alerted him to its presence.
Tucked away deep in a bush was this funny little Screech Owl. Look at that face. They always look kind of irritated, I think. But adorable all the same. Eastern Screech Owls are by no means rare, but the thing is, they are really good at hiding. And as far as I know, they are strictly nocturnal. You would never see one out hunting in the afternoon like the Barred Owls. Therefore, we hardly ever see them.
If you are lucky, you might hear a Screech Owl calling at night. Here is its ghostly call:
This was the very first Screech Owl I have seen in the wild. A magnificent day, for sure.
This sounds like the best day ever! And the lighting was absolutely perfect for these shots!!
Oh yes! Some light cloud cover can be great for photos- like a soft filter. What a day.
Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoyed it and look forward to sharing the story and photos with my 5 year old this evening.
We have a few barred owls in the woods behind my house and it’s always a joy to hear them hooting away. Every now and then they come to our fish pond for a meal. Usually waking me up 3 am ish with their victory hoot.
That eastern screech has very similar color and markings to a rattlesnake?
Wow I love to think of a Barred Owl fishing! I have never seen them do this-only hunting rodents on land. Thanks for writing. Sounds like you live in a beautiful area with lots of nature.