Readers’ wildlife photos (and video)

We have photos from a new contributor today: Neil Dawe. And it is OWLS, which are H0norary Cats™. Neil’s notes are indented, and be sure to see his pair of “spot the owl” pictures at the end.

All these photos were taken on Vancouver Island in a small wooded area in Parksville, BC.

My wife and I walk Sophie, our Golden Lab, through a wooded area that, late last year, became home to a pair of Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus). Usuall, we would see or hear Barred Owls (Strix varia) during our walks. But that all ended about mid-December when we heard a pair of Great Horned Owls calling to each other and haven’t heard or seen the Barred Owls since. [JAC: here’s the barred owl]:

Our first glimpse of the horned owls came in February when we found the male perched in a western redcedar (Thuja plicata). The female, who does all the incubation, was likely on eggs.

Later, in April, we would invariably find the female perched in the same area on a bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) branch in the open, suggesting a nest with young was nearby.

She would keep her eye on us as we walked a trail some distance from where she was perched and where she often demonstrated her remarkable head-turning ability. Here she is looking at us with about a 220° counter-clockwise rotation of the head…

…and from the same position with about a 120° clockwise rotation.

We subsequently found the male who was usually perched in trees with more cover, such as this western red cedar (Thuja plicata).

One day, a friend spent an hour searching for the nest and found it in a cavity 8 m off the ground in a bigleaf maple close to where the female usually perched. Three young were in the nest. Here you can make out two of the young, one facing the camera and a downy head to the right of it (13 April).

A couple of days older and a little taller (15 April).

On 18 April, one young had fledged earlier in the day, suggesting eggs were laid in late January. These two, perched on the nest edge, were nearly ready to go. They left the nest on or about 23 April.

The female and one of the fledged young in the late afternoon of 24 April, some distance from the nest.

Here’s a fairly easy “find the owl” shot.

Find the owl reveal:

And Stephen Barnard in Idaho sent a movie of the two American kestrels (Falco sparverius) that have taken up residence (and apparently laid eggs) in a nestbox he made and fastened to his garage. Here’s Boris “bringing home the bacon”; according to Stephen, he’s feeding the brooding Natasha, and the eggs probably haven’t hatched yet (the food isn’t going into the box).

Be sure to enlarge this by clicking on the “vimeo” name and then the enlarging arrows:

18 Comments

  1. ChrisH
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Those are some most excellent owls!

  2. PeteT
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Lovely shots of some beautiful birds – thank you.

  3. Blue
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    O’m’golly … …, Mr Dawe !
    wholly and utterly d e s e r v i n g
    of this word: A M A Z I N G !

    Blue

  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Great pics & the video too. I guess Ms. Natasha vocalises without opening her beak?

    A Wiki picture below by Peter K Burian showing the great horned owl’s on board ‘cutlery’ – just right for snowshoe hares or even bigger prey [Wiki says up to 6.8 kg or 15 lb, which surprises me! That’s three times the weight of the largest female. Maybe the larger recorded prey are sickly]
    Talons,_Great_Horned_Owl

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 30, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      It occurs to me that the great horned owl isn’t so much a flier as a gliding bomb. It converts height [perching on its regular branch] into a weighty falling kinetic bomb with knives attached.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Wonderful pictures and story! I very much enjoyed that.
    Now lately it has not been possible to double click to embiggen pictures. Has anybody else had that issue?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 30, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Yes. It has something to do with the way PCC[E] has set up his posts I think. I get around this by duplicating the tab & in the new tab I right click the pic & from the mouse context menu I select “view image”. This is in Firefox.

  6. Posted April 30, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Very natural pics of owls.Now they became invisible. thanks for clicking these pictures.

  7. Terry Sheldon
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Love owls! Thanks for the great pictures! Also, thanks to Stephen for the ongoing kestrel updates. I never saw many of them in my previous locations but now see them quite frequently in the heart of south central PA farm country.

  8. Debbie Coplan
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful post. Very exciting photos and film clip.
    Thank you to all!

  9. Paul Matthews
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I think the spot-the-owl photo could also serve as a spot-the-pileated-woodpecker photo. (Pileated Woodpecker is Dryocopus pileatus.)

    • Neil Dawe
      Posted April 30, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Must have been focusing too much on the owl; where do you see the Pileated Woodpecker?

  10. Christopher
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Wow. How cool to get such pics!

    On a sadder note, I see a disturbing number of dead owls (and other birds of prey) along the highway during my commute. It sucks to think they went into a dinner time dive near the road and got nailed by a car going 70mph.

    Also sad but still cool, Yesterday while checking on my recently planted Apple tree, a red shouldered hawk flew right over my head to a maple behind me and proceeded to pluck the eggs out of a robin’s nest while the parents went crazy! I only have an iPhone so the pics are crap. If only I had some decent kit like that used to take the photos show here…

  11. Posted April 30, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Excellent! I liked best the owl on the cedar and the babies.

  12. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    OK. Here is an image showing where I think the spider is. The round body of the spider is at the top of the rectangle & almost invisible. The spider is pointed down the tree & it’s dark legs are arrayed in the lower half of the rectangle:
    SPIDER

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 30, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      wrong thread lol

  13. Toni Jordon
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Owls and Johnny Hartman….impressive!

  14. Posted May 1, 2018 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Stop judging me, honorary cats!


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