Friday, March 4, 2022

Hoot’s Nesting Site has been found…


Hoot’s Nesting Site has been found…
On Monday, 02-07-22, while walking in the owl area I came across a person who I recognized from pictures from another FB group, but I have never met him. 
He was carrying a camera, so I knew exactly why he was in the area. He was looking for the owl nest. When I saw him I said that I recognized him and ask what he was doing in this area. We talked for a bit, then we went our own way. He never mentioned he was looking for the nest. 
He knew my name and he mentioned he doesn’t come to this area often. In fact, I’ve never seen him in this area while I’ve been photographing the owls or at any other time, but with the amount of time I’ve spent in this area I’m sure our paths would have crossed at least once or at least I would have seen him from a distance. 
I checked his FB page this morning and saw he had found the nest yesterday and he had posted a picture of the nest/snag with a portion of the female’s body visible in it. 
I wasn’t planning to go to the nest today (02-08-22) , but I was curious to see if he had been by it. It looked like it, so when I got back home I checked to see if he had posted anymore photos. There were two new pictures posted today because the female was in a different position on the nest from yesterday and he had a picture of the male perched in a tree near the nest. I recognize the tree. :)

I know this person takes photos of wildlife, so hopefully he won’t tell anyone where this nest is located. I looked briefly at some his photos and it appears that it was just yesterday the Great Horned Owl/nest images started showing up. 
Since the female has only been on this nest a couple days I find it more than a coincidence that I found him walking in the area with his camera and for him to actually find the nest by chance. To get a photograph of the owl he would have to walk around the snag to see her inside.
Unfortunately, if I wouldn’t have put up pictures of the nest/snag it would have been harder to find the nest, but I didn’t expect someone to actually go out and look for it. 
There’s nothing I can do about this situation, but I’m surely disappointed that the nest was found under these circumstances…
I posted the above info in another FB group and someone asked me a question. Here is the question and my reply...
I found this group by way of another FB group. I’d love to start photographing more wildlife and I have questions about this post. I’m not trying to be a jerk, but trying to learn about ethical practices. Is this nest on your private property? If not, why isn’t it okay that another person was photographing these birds, assuming they don’t trample habitat, stress the owls or share the location publicly?

My response ...

My post was my thoughts and opinion about the situation… This is on public property. I’m aware that the owls might be located, but what I don’t like was how this nest site was discovered. It wasn’t by coincidence or accident. This area is pretty secluded and out of the way so without the help from a trail camera it gave this person the general area where I’ve been photographing for the past 1 1/2 years and most likely some information from my numerous narratives/ photos about these owls that narrowed down the general location.

I wrote a narrative that went along with my photos for the benefit of those who enjoy the owls, but for what ever reason aren’t able to go out looking for them. Many people just go out and take a picture. I spend lots of time watching and learning from them. It wasn’t until I posted a picture of the female on this distinct nest on the evening of 02-06-22 that this person was in this specific area the next day on 02-07-22 looking for the nest. An owl on a nest is a very sensitive time for the female. I don’t know this person, although I don’t think he would do anything to directly harm the owls. Although, it’s one more person coming around the nest and the nest site wasn’t found by chance. He admitted he doesn’t come to this area often. I mentioned on my earlier post I’ve never seen him in this area. Since this area is so lightly travelled it was easy to follow my tracks.

It’s how the nest was discovered that I’m disappointed in from this photographer. I mentioned I’ve spent hundred of hours photographing these owls including 3 to 4 hours each time I go out to photograph and observe their different behaviors. Last season I spent every day for 2 months up to 4 hours at a time photographing / video the female on the nest until her two owlets moved away from the area. I have never seen another photographer or this photographer in this area. I have a vested interest to the safety of these owls as the best I can.

The fewer people that attempt to find the location of these owls, especially the nest area, they can go about their normal lives as much as possible. Not every photographer is as “ethical” in their methods of  attempting to get a photo of an owl on a nest. I’m not implying this about this photographer, but there are several other photographers who will do just about anything to get a picture. Like I said,  I’ve spent many days and hundreds hours with these two owls so I’m pretty protective of them as much as I can. Go read some of the post on the Sax Zim Bog FB group about groups of photographers surrounding a single owl attempting to get a picture of it. These are some of my concerned if too many people find out about this location. There is habitat destruction, there is stress on the owls and not too many people keep a secret.

The more people in this particular area will certainly stress the owls, possibly causing the female to abandon the nest, because the area isn’t traveled much by other people. All my time out there I’ve never seen others who are going around looking around specifically just for owls/nest.  I spend so much time in these woods, sometimes I have to hide, but I’m very familiar with the very few people who go through the area.

 I’m certainly aware that most people don’t publicly mentioned an owl or nest location, but I’m also aware that there are other photographers who privately tell their friends where to find different owls and sometimes it’s to a group of their friends.

These are my concerns…in the future I’m probably going to describe less in my narratives &/or  limit my postings on my other owls to help prevent this from taking place.
My narrative about the video:
Give a Hoot and Hoot (Great Horned Owls) 02-07-22

On Monday, 02-07-22, I set up my camera at least 40 or more yards away from Hoot’s nest. I hadn’t seen Give a Hoot, the male, all day long, but I figured I would eventually hear him call sometime while I was out.

I pointed my camera to the top of the snag. I had it just about all set up when I heard Give a Hoot do a contact call. These are similar to a territorial call but without the forward leaning posture.

The call was about as loud as I have ever heard it. It sounded like he was right above me. It was pretty quiet in the woods so I thought maybe he was further away than what it sounded. I walked around the immediate area trying to get different views through the trees as I looked around for him. I kept saying it sounded like he was right above me. He’s got to be looking at me. :)

After several contact calls from Give a Hoot I finally spotted him right above me no more than 15 yards up. I couldn’t believe it. Unbelievable…

I put several subtitles in this video and I narrated more than I usually do just because the camera was pointed to the top of the nest. Hoot can be seen moving around in the nest. Based upon her behaviors I believe there’s at least one egg. Typically eggs are laid two days apart, so I think it’s a little too early for a second egg when I was out there this day (02-07-22).
Photo on 02-08-22

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