Tuesday, February 2, 2021

"Hoot" sighting... the female Great Horned Owl


“Hoot” sighting…
While out on my owl photowalk today, Tuesday, 02-02-21, I looked to my left and saw what I thought might be an owl in the distance. I looked through my binoculars and determined it was a Great Horned Owl and it sure looked like it was “Hoot” the female GHO that I’ve been looking for since 12-25-20. I was probably 70 yards away, but decided to get my camera gear out of my backpack to get some shots from this location. Once I set up the tripod I got some photos.
When I took a few photos from this distance I enlarged one of the images on the back of the camera and it was definitely “Hoot”. 
To get to the tree/area where she was located I had to go through the deep snow through a marsh which proved to be quite difficult, since I hadn’t been through this area before on my snowshoes. The next time I go out I’ll need to bring the snowshoes.
I got closer to the area, but lost sight of her while I was watching my footing so I thought she must have flew away. After looking for her for several minutes, I finally located her and was able to get a couple more photos. 
Next I was going to take some video of her, but when I looked down to adjust the camera / tripod she flew off without me noticing. I stood where I was and looked for several more minutes in the direction I figured she flew, but I didn’t see her. 
Packing up my gear back into the backpack I decided to see if I could find the Barred Owl, but while walking that way I really kept telling myself I needed to get back to where I saw “Hoot” and scan the area as best I could with my binoculars.
I walked to the area I found the Barred Owl yesterday and didn’t find it, so I headed back to look for “Hoot” some more. I found one very promising large nest very high up in a tree in the general area. I’ll keep an eye on that nest for any activity and I'll also continue to check the immediate area where “Hoot” was sighted. It’s been 39 days since I last saw her… These were the best images I could get of her today.
Edit: 02-03-21...
Yesterday, when I located “Hoot”, the female Great Horned Owl,  it was about 1340 hrs. My guess it was no more than 15 minutes from the time I saw her until she flew off. I certainly don’t know how long she was in that tree before I saw her.

I initially thought maybe she was hunting, but the way she was positioned on the branch wasn’t a typical perch for an unobstructed view and flight to grab a rodent on the ground for something to eat. This is based upon my prior observations of her.

The open marsh was where I was standing to get the closer photo of her. My thoughts are if she would have been hunting for food she would have been facing the direction toward me and in a tree closer to the edge of the marsh because there were other trees blocking her path to the ground. But again, I’m no owl!

I have read in the past, “ Females can incubate eggs in temperatures as low as -35 Degrees F ( -31 C) and eggs have been known to survive at -25 F (-31 C) for up to 20 minutes while the female takes a break from incubation duties!” The temperatures yesterday were fairly mild going from around 18 to 23 F.

Based upon finding her in this “newer” area I believe she is on a nest somewhere in the general area where I saw her.


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