Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Addicted to Owls

 

It's fairly rare for me to see an owl in the daytime (or any other time for that matter), especially considering I walk in the woods every day. Because they usually roost during the day, you'd probably never even know that an owl is around unless one happens to fly by you.

However, I lucked out and discovered an area where a barred owl can be found most days. The first time I saw him he flew across the path I was walking on, and he was being pursued by really angry robins. I've visited with him half a dozen times since then and usually I can find him if I just follow the sound of robins chirping in a certain insistent way. It's unbelievable to watch the robins harassing the owl...they fly by, usually bashing into him, over and over again. I feel really sorry for the owl. At first I assumed barred owls only ate rodents but I looked it up and discovered that they also eat birds (including other smaller owls) and snakes.


In fact, my feathered friend (who I named Buddy) has a taste for snakes. I've watched him hunt and eat two snakes. Buddy seems very comfortable with me now...he actually flew to a closer branch before eating his meal the second time he caught a snake. Thanks for sharing, Buddy! I don't know what I'll do if I ever see him catch a squirrel or a bird...that's something I don't want to see. It was hard enough watching him eat a snake. But hey, an owl has to eat!

After eating a couple of snakes and when the robins finally left him alone, Buddy finally took some time to have a little snooze.


It was hard to get any good shots of Buddy eating snakes or being harassed by robins because there isn't much light where I photograph him. He's very tolerant of me though, giving me time to set up my tripod so that I can shoot him at an ISO of between 100 to 200. I usually prefer to photograph handholding my camera but in this case, it would be impossible to get any decent shots.


By the way, the first time I came across this owl I had another exciting wildlife encounter. I'd left the trail and walked alongside it briefly to get to the tree where Buddy was perched. I packed up after photographing him very quietly for fifteen minutes or so and started to walk back to where I'd left the trail. All of a sudden I saw a flash of black fur and realized that a black bear was heading towards me on the trail! He ran off into the woods in the opposite direction. It dawned on me that if I'd stayed put, that bear would've walked right by me within another 10 seconds. Hmmm...

The photographs in this post were taken a few days ago but I just returned from photographing Buddy again so look for more owl images in the near future!
barred owls art

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