On Wednesday, 02-24-21, I went to another area in hopes of photographing a Great Horned Owl. Previously, I’ve been in this area 5 times and I’ve seen the Great Horned Owl three times, but I haven’t been able to photograph it.
This is an older stand of very large deciduous trees that is pretty open. I have a general area where I have seen the owl, but it always flies off before I’m even close to it.
Today, I got in this general area and once again I saw the owl fly off in the distance. I stopped and watched it land, then it immediately flew off again. I continued to watch and lost sight of the owl behind some trees way in the distance. I thought the owl must have landed in another tree or it continued flying directly away from me which was unlikely because it would have had to abruptly change course otherwise I should have seen it flying past the trees in the distance.
I started walking to the tree that I originally saw the owl fly from when out of the corner of my eye I saw an owl flying the other way. This was the opposite direction the first owl flew. It seemed to me that this was another owl based upon where it flew from which I don’t believe was the area where I lost sight of the first owl.
I continued walking toward the tree where I saw the first owl fly from when I noticed a large cavity in another large tree in the area where I lost sight of the first owl. That would explain why I didn’t see it continue flying after it got behind some other trees blocking my view. I glassed the cavity and could see a couple owl feathers inside.
I took a few photos from different angles with my long lens. The tree at the cavity is at least 2 feet in diameter. What I can’t tell is if the cavity drops down toward the back and a female owl could be on the nest or if the nest is the actual area that can be seen in the photos. If that’s the case I don’t see any eggs or an owl. One of the photos I counted six feather with the possibility of one more.
Based upon what I saw today was if there was only one owl it wasn’t on the nest when I first saw it and if there was two owls then the first owl probably went inside the cavity and the second owl was probably the male that flew from another tree.
Now that I have a possible nest site I don’t need to go back for awhile.
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
On Tuesday, 02-23-21, I was back out walking the woods looking for the owls. Earlier in my walk I spotted the male Great Horned Owl, “Give a Hoot”. Just like yesterday I was by a large oak tree, so when I spotted him in the distance I slowly ducked behind the big oak tree. Again I was hoping to get my camera gear out of my backpack without him watching me. I fooled him yesterday and was able to get a few shots, but today he wasn’t going to be fooled again. Off he flew…
I knew the Barred Owl that I’ve photographed many times wouldn’t be in this immediate area where “Give a Hoot” was just perched so I continued on and checked the fringes of this area. Not finding the Barred Owl in several known areas I decided to walk home going out a different way.
While walking out I spotted the Barred Owl perched in a tree a little higher up than I normally see it, but there it was sitting with its back to me. I could tell this is the same Barred Owl that I normally photograph because it didn’t bother to look around at me. I set up my tripod and attached my lens and camera in the spot where I found it. I took several images with its back to me. It felt like it was giving me the cold shoulder routine, since it had been 12 days since I last saw it. It still wouldn’t look my way.
I was glad to finally find it because the last time I found it it was right in the middle of the Great Horned Owl’s territory during the prolong cold part of the winter. I was happy to see that the male Great Horned Owl hadn’t eaten it.
I finally moved my tripod more to the front of the owl. I only had a small branch free window to photograph it. After adjusting the tripod I finally got it where I needed it.
The area where I found the owl would possibility have some people coming by and I’m sure they would be curious on what I was photographing. In fact, during the 1 1/2 hours I spent with the owl some people walked up to me. One of them had a dog and you can tell which photograph I took while the owl watched the dog. The owl elongates its body and pulls its feathers close to its body trying to get as small as it can.
During my time with the owl I watched the owl regurgitate a pellet. I was putting on some gloves and missed the opportunity to turn on the video. I walked underneath the owl looking for the pellet, but couldn’t find it in the snow which also had some dead branches down on the ground. While underneath the owl I needed to look up to line it up to a spot on the ground. A few times I looked up the owl was looking back down at me. I’m sure it was wondering what I was up to now, but it quickly went back to being uninterested in what I was doing.
While back at my camera the owl started looking behind so I moved my tripod to near where I was initially was set up and got a couple more backside images. There are several similar images, but he’s so photogenic and where it was perched I wasn’t able to walk around it like I normally can do to get some shots from different angles.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Monday, February 22, 2021
"Give a Hoot"...male Great Horned Owl
Today, 02-22-21, I went looking for the owls after staying away from the area over the week-end. I found the male Great Horned Owl, “Give a Hoot”, not far from where I found him a few days ago.
I saw him in the distance perched in a large oak tree after I walked around another large oak tree. I immediately stopped and slowly walked backwards to place the oak tree in between me and “Give a Hoot” so I could get out my camera gear from my backpack without him actually seeing what I was doing. He certainly knew I was there, so I’m surprised he stuck around.
When I had just about everything ready to go I slowly walked back toward him keeping the oak tree between us. I was able to set up the tripod with my camera to get some photos. I even lowered the tripod a couple feet in an attempted to remove the branch from the top of his head. These were the best pictures I could get today. Once I had enough pictures of him with the branch obstructing his feather tuffs I tried moving to a better location, but “Give a Hoot” wasn’t going to have any of that nonsense…off he went!
Friday, February 19, 2021
Thursday, February 18, 2021
This afternoon I went out walking around the woods for 3 hours looking for the owls. These two images are of the male Great Horned Owl, who I call “Give a Hoot”.
He was hiding in this tree where I’ve spotted him a few times in the past. Today I started looking at the tree while I was further away from it, since it was a week ago he flew from this same tree. I noticed that there seemed to be a bulge along one of the branches, so i glassed the tree and saw “Give a Hoot” backed right up next to the larger branch to its left. The way the branch attaches to the tree that he’s perched on I could only see about half his body.
I usually don’t get a chance to see him from a distance like today. Normally he’s off flying as soon as he thinks I’ve spotted him. I was lucky today since I was able to set up my tripod and attach my lens/camera. Although, once I got it set up he moved away from the larger branch, pooped, then flew off.
I checked a few more areas for two different Barred Owls and the female GHO, but I didn’t find them.
During my walks I’ve been keeping an eye on an aspen tree that has some Pileated Woodpecker holes. I figure there was something living in the round hole because of the recent activity surrounding the hole. While walking toward the tree it looked like something was in the hole. I got out my binoculars and saw it was a squirrel. All I could see was about half of its head that was resting on both of his front feet while it was watching me. By the time I got set up to take a picture it must have other things to do. I waited for awhile to see if he would stick his head out again, but he never did.
Monday, February 15, 2021
I saw the male Great Horned Owl, "Give a Hoot" ...
I got out this afternoon to look for the owls. After not finding the Barred Owl in one of its known areas I decided to walk the area where I’ve previously seen the male Great Horned Owl, the female Great Horned Owl and last Thursday, the Barred Owl.
I was kind of meandering when I looked up in a large oak tree and saw the male Great Horned Owl, “Give a Hoot”. I was close enough to him to be able to identify him without glassing him.
If you have read any of my other postings about him he doesn’t stick around very long. I didn’t even try removing my backpack to get my camera out, so instead I reached inside my front pants pocket for my GoPro and thought I turned it on and was recording video as he flew off to another part of the woods. I was going to post the video when I got home, but determined that the GoPro had turned on in my pocket, so when I took it out of my pocket I turned it off and after he flew off I started the GoPro again before putting it back in my pocket. I had lots of totally black/blank video with the sounds of me walking around in the woods. While walking around I heard the GoPro turn off while in my pocket when the battery was exhausted.
The Barred Owl wasn’t going to be found in this part of the woods after the male GHO was perched there, so I walked about another half mile to where I know of another Barred Owl. I didn’t find him, but I saw two Pileated Woodpeckers.
I continued to walk the woods for almost 3 hours, but I didn’t find anymore owls. When I walk the woods without stopping to photograph I'll walk between two to three miles with a 30 pound backpack. When I left the house it was -5F and when I got back home it was -6F.
Tomorrow I’ll probably head to another completely different area to look for another Great Horned Owl that I’ve seen a couple times, but I haven’t been able to photograph it yet.