Monday, February 24, 2014

Owl Prowl (Part 2)

This is the second part of the "Owl Prowl" with Christian, click here for the first part.

We continued down the road in search of the other great grey that was up ahead. Sure enough there it was sitting on a tiny branch beside the road. We started taking pictures right away, it surprisingly didn't fly away, even though we were only some 15 feet away.

The owl barely fit into the frame it was so close
 It was very exciting watching the owls smooth movements of the head so closely. Even Christian said he seldom got this close to a Great Grey.
Great Grey Owls sit on branches listening under the snow for voles to catch.
 In the picture below the owls eyes look blue, Christian explained it is because they have a transparent eyelid type of thing  called a Nictitating Membrane. It is drawn horizontally across their eyes for protection and moistening while it can still see.
The stick it's on is so tiny and doesn't seem like it would hold up such a big bird, but these owls have so much fluff and feathers that makes it look a lot bigger than it actually is.
 Owls have facial disks that works kind of as a funnel for sound. They have offset ears so they can pinpoint which direction the sound is coming from.
You can see the Nictitating Membrane better in this cropped picture
 We watched it for a while taking turns with the camera, warming up occasionally in the van.

We waited, and waited... and waited for it to dive into the snow after a vole, which would make amazing action shots.
In some of the pictures it looks as if the owl is floating. It's feet are tucked into it's feathers to keep it warm.
 Then suddenly it launched off the branch into flight. Christian had his camera and my brother had our camera at the time so I never got to take any. These are Christian's pictures:
Here you can see it's feet as it launches off the branch.
After waiting for a half hour at least, we finally got some photos of it flying.
It was too close that the whole wing didn't fit in the frame

It landed on a nearby branch and we drove slowly up and watched it a few more minutes until we decided it was time to go.
For my first of Manitoba's Provincial bird it was an excellent view, they are magnificent birds! It was a truly amazing experience.

We went to the end of the road and turned around and drove back. We saw the owl sitting atop the tiny branch again, we saw the other Great Grey, plus another one as we drove by. So that's three!

ebird checklists: 

Breezy Point, Selkirk

Stay tuned for the last part!


  1. I'm enjoying reading about your adventures in bird watching. I'm escpecially loving your photos of Owls! Selling any prints? Keep up the excellent work Joe.
    Elaina Desrochers

  2. Wow, those are great pictures! I am amazed at your patience....
    Enjoy your hunt for the snowy owl...can"t wait to see photos. Alida Barendregt

  3. Your excitement in seeing the Great Grays for the first time reminded me of when I saw my first one two years ago. A moment you won't forget!