Thursday, January 12, 2006

Watching just one bird...

Given the second consecutive day of sun in half a month of gray skies, the sunrise this morning was very pleasing eye-candy. Like clockwork, the Snowy Owl went to roost at 7:30 a.m. just as the sun’s rays began painting the hilltops. When a few clouds obscured the light, the owl decided to fly up to a utility pole for a final look around, and that’s how I left it before heading off to work.

Typically the snowy roosts the entire day in the farm fields and comes out to hunt between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. So far I’ve seen it catch rats, mice and even a small bird, but I was too far away to determine which species of bird it was. There are starlings and house sparrows galore at the farms, so perhaps it was either of those...or maybe a horned lark. One time the owl dove toward a small flock of rock pigeons but struck out.

(click on image for larger image)

Bird watching to study a single bird can be just as interesting and rewarding, if not more so, as going out to see a variety of species, identifying as many as possible. One furthers an appreciation of a particular bird’s habits; it’s daily routine and how it responds to various things such as weather, light, people, traffic, fixtures both natural and manmade and other and wildlife. Sometimes its fun just to sit there with a notebook and jot down everything it does while watching it from a distance through my scope.

But when dark's starlight
Thrids my green domain,
My plumage trembles and stirs,
I wake again;

A spectral moon
Silvers the world I see;
Out of their daylong lairs
Creep thievishly

(from Walter de la Mare's "The Owl")

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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