Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wild Screech Owl

This month I have chosen just one topic—a series of photos of a wild Eastern Screech Owl found near World Bird Sanctuary.
 Even for those of us who work with raptors every day, a wild Screech Owl sighting is an exciting event (Photo by Cathy Spahn)
At about 5:30 pm on February 20, as I was enjoying a leisurely day off there came an insistant knocking on my door.  When I opened it there stood Catherine, one of my co-workers and my next-door neighbor.  She was obviously very excited, and very quickly said, “…shirt, shoes, Screech Owl!”   I hurriedly put on my shoes, threw on a sweater, and then grabbed my binoculars and camera. 
 It was a beautiful red phase Eastern Screech Owl (Photo by Cathy Spahn)
We ran up the hill at WBS to Catherine’s car--not an easy challenge.  We quickly hopped in the car and went to find Jeff, who had originally spotted the owl along the edge of a road and was parked near the owl.  As we arrived, up from the ground flew a very dark, red phase Eastern Screech Owl.  As we watched the bird I started taking lots of photos.
 Thank goodness for the miracle of zoom lenses (Photo by Cathy Spahn)
After a while Jeff left, we pulled up where Jeff’s truck was because he was closer to the owl, and I was able to take more photos of this very cute/beautiful bird from a different angle.  In most cases a car seems to make a perfect “blind” for photographing wildlife.  If we had attempted to leave the automobile and approach the bird on foot he would surely have flown away.  After watching and photographing him from our car for a little while we decided to leave the bird alone and we went down the road to turn around.
 By the time we got turned around the owl had flown further back into the woods (Photo by Cathy Spahn)
On the way back we started looking for the little owl.  This was a challenge since the he/she had flown further into the woods.  However, when we did eventually spot the owl it was looking at something on the ground—possibly its next meal.  That was when we decided to move on and leave the owl alone to hunt. 

Even though we both work with birds of prey on a daily basis, spotting one in the wild is always an exciting event.  This was a life/first bird for Catherine, and was the first one I have seen in the wild in a few years.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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