Friday, October 17, 2008

Great Horned Owl

I knew he'd come back! I wonder if this is the same bird who visited last year? I'm surrounded by tall trees, he was way up there. I told you I need a long lens to get these distant bird-shots, but this will have to do.

It looks nearly like he has a mouthful of feathers, but I think that's just his collared ruff fluffed up a bit. It was pretty funny, I'd been outside for something else but had heard some interesting bird sounds and went inside to get my binocs. When I came back outside it was all quiet. Hmmmmmm... I looked high and for unusually big bumps in the silhouette of tree branches and sure enough, I spotted him.

He let me watch awhile, I went elsewhere in the yard and tried to find other birds…to no avail. Finally I went in and got my little camera and tried for some shots of the pretty guy. I have discovered it is best to NOT try for a digital zoom, but rather a high-quality and large-format shot that I can then crop. Even so, the camera struggled for a good photo in the declining light and distant subject.

Still, it’s always exciting to find such a grand bird. And he's my October bird Number 21.


Bosque Bill said...

Very cool! Congratulations.

Though owls don't regularly catch birds for dinner (or so I've read,) I wonder if this explains the lack of birds seen in your yard lately?

I'm not saying the owl has been eating them, but the little birds may be uneasy hanging around with a large predator sitting up in the tree.

Maybe someone more knowledgeable can share their views.

Beverly said...

Thanks Bill…I thought it was very cool too. Last year I watched a pair raise three chicks at the nearby golf course, I wonder if this guy is related? I’m doing some research on this big guy…here is a bit of a preview of something I got from Cornell: “Although mammalian prey typically comprise more than three quarters of the diet, more than fifty species of birds have been recorded as prey.”

I’ve also discovered one apparent reason for the mobbing crows give this bird…the Great Horned Owl is the Crow’s most predominant predator! Also, that in some places the reintroduction of Peregrine Falcons has been hampered by these owls killing both adult and nestling falcons. They are also a significant predator of Osprey. In fact, I read on Cornel: “In addition to hunting small songbirds, Great Horned Owls have been known to eat large birds such as grouse, herons, ducks, Canada Geese, hawks (including Red-tailed), and even other species of owl. A woodland with resident Great Horned Owls usually lacks any other raptors in the immediate vicinity.”

At any rate, I’ve seen them in my yard before, as well as Red-tailed Hawks and the more frequent Cooper’s and Sharpies. In spite of them, all winter I had a yard-full of birds most of the time. When a raptor appears, they hide for a bit; but generally the drama is over within an hour.

Debbie said...

He's a beauty. We had one that hung around at our old house. We loved it because there was always good hunting for rabbits or voles. We'd occasionally find rabbit fur in the yard. Always a pleasure to get rid of those things.

Beverly said...

Yup, he was a beaut! I'm working on a piece about GHOLs...I had to do some research and figure I'll just do a little more and post it here. I hope I find lots of little 'treasures' know, something other than the fact that they like to eat feral cats. ;)

NW Nature Nut said...

Great! And you get two points for owls!!

Camera Trap Codger said...

He didn't leave you a gift did he? Like a furry bone filled pellet?

Beverly said...

LMAO... Now, now Chris; if you need pellets check out this link

Okay, so I'm guessing you don't need to buy them (though they do seem to be cheap if someone is looking for a present to give a young budding biologist). While this guy didn’t leave me one, I’ve found plenty. As you know the owls seem to prefer eating and barfing at favorite spots; the same tree bears enjoy at certain times of the year, is the tree I find pellets under other times of the year. It was the white-wash underneath that gave me a clue!

I hope you're having fun in NM...that place looks awesome; I'm looking forward to more posts on your blog!