It's been quite a season for me and spotting Long-ears. I've seen more individual Long-ears than Snowys! I never thought that possible with the Snowy irruptions the last few winters.
For me, the Long-eared Owl is a real treat to see because they are very difficult to spot. They hide themselves well within conifers and it's like a treasure hunt to find them.
I chanced upon this guy a few weeks back. He did not exactly pick the best hiding spot, roosting right along a foot path. I did not see him until we were more than a little too close for comfort. Shocked the heck out of both myself and the bird. I slowly backed up and was able to get a shot before he gave me the ol' "I'm outta here!" I hate it when I unintentionally flush them. They are the most skittish species of Owl I have ever seen. If I knew he was here, I would not have stepped into his comfort zone, and would have re-routed myself.
Last week I chanced upon 2 birds in another park. The first one was brought to my attention by 3 Crows. They were just freaking on this poor Owl and eventually went at him, sending him flying to another spot, deep within a Pine tree. I only saw the Owl after the birds got physical and sent him flying over me. I watched the bird take shelter, the Crows still squawked away but did not pursue the bird any further.
Can you see the Owl? He's looking right at you.
In the same outing, a short bit later, I chanced upon this guy just dozing the morning away in full view off the path.
He was well aware of my presence but with our distance between us he seemed fine with things. I bet he was also well aware what was happening to his buddy due to those Crows. "Better him than me" he must have thought.
I never left the path to get any closer to the bird. Why did I need to? Who could ask for a better view than this? The first shot of him is no zoom, no cropping whereas the second is zoomed in and then cropped quite a bit.
If I don't see another Long-eared Owl the remainder of the season, I'm good with that.
The funny thing is this second encounter I am blogging about, I was out that morning and Long-ears were not on my mind at all. I had another bird of interest in mind, hoping to spot, which did not pan out for me. So seeing this was a pretty darn good consolation.
Can you see the Owl? I think I may have shared this in another blog.
This one doesn't even look real to me, more like a painting.
It seems to be a good winter for these birds in our area. I really hope they all have a peaceful stay with us but I've already heard a number of horrific stories from reported spots. There's nothing wrong with people wanting to see these Owls but the welfare of the bird must always come first over any close view or photograph. Seriously! What are these people doing with their shots anyway?