Thursday, May 05, 2022

Owl report

A few years ago I had a good run of luck with owl sightings, but last year there were none at all and I hadn't seen any this year until now. Two days ago when I was walking the dog I heard the telltale whistle-hiss of a barred owl in an area where I'd seem them many times in the past. I couldn't get a definite visual on it and didn't have my camera with me, but I made note of the place so I could return. Yesterday it rained but this morning I headed for the same spot, with camera this time but sans dog.

On my way out I thought I heard the same hissing sound but it was too faint for me to be sure; on the way back, though, there was no mistaking it. I walked off the trail a few yards in that direction until I located the owl high up in a very tall tulip poplar. I wasn't close enough to see it well, but since I didn't want to spook it I let my camera zoom in and do the looking. After a few minutes I moved to a slightly different angle, then started to walk away. A single distinct "hoot" from nearby stopped me in my tracks. I looked up: a large adult owl was perched, by itself, in another large tree about fifty yards from the first, keeping a wary eye on me. I took some pictures and headed home.

I thought there might have been a second owl in the first tree, but couldn't tell for sure. It was only when I downloaded the images that I realized that there were no less than four, probably all juveniles. (One is largely concealed behind a limb in the shot below.) Had I known they were there, I would have made a better job of getting them all in the frame.
The Norway maple and tulip poplar leaves are coming out this week; the other trees are a bit behind. I'll give the owls a week's worth of privacy before I check in on them again, but by then I suspect they'll be harder to spot. Still, it's good to know that this family is thriving.

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