Friday, February 09, 2007

February Barred Owl

I left work a little early yesterday to walk the entire stream corridor trail of Pheasant Branch Conservancy in search of Barred Owls. I like to do this each year about this time because they're much easier to find compared to when the leaves are out, plus it's just sort of nice to know they're still there guarding their home.

The low angle of the setting sun created long, eerie shadows across the snow and only a few birds remained active. Perhaps they were preparing to join others already at roost, in search of a bit of food before enduring yet another bitterly cold night. You can't see them, but you're surrounded by birds. I like to imagine cardinals, jays, juncos, nuthatches, chickadees and titmice all tucked in for the night, perhaps in various tree cavities and other nooks and crannies.

After an hour, I finally found a Barred Owl perched on a branch next to a tree trunk about 25 feet up. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught its lighter color against the darker tree. I didn't stay long. There was still enough light to look with my binoculars – the owl blinked a few times, looking right at me, and then I walked the long mile back to my car. It had been about a year since the last time I saw a Barred Owl at the conservancy – April, I think. And April is a very warm thought.

All images © Mike McDowell

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