Saturday, November 15, 2014


It's late evening and it's snowing. The morning skies were clear but temperatures were in the low teens. It's going to be even colder tomorrow morning, so I'm not sure whether or not I'm going to go out birding again this weekend. There are Snowy Owls not too far away from home, so I might do my usual owl route if road conditions aren't too nasty. It's still over a month before winter officially begins, but so far late fall has been more than a prelude to winter … it is winter.

The highlight of my walk at the conservancy this morning was finding a Barred Owl. But not just any Barred Owl. This is an owl I've known for over a decade – I know most of his usual roosting sites. Me, Sylvia and Dottie refer him as “Sprout.” It's a name Dottie gave him on account of how he appears to be sprouting from a particular tree when perched at one of his usual roosting spots. Unfortunately for Sprout there were several American Crows mobbing him today, which was how I became aware of his presence. You can tell by his alert posture that he was very concerned about the crows.

I think I took my first photograph of Sprout around 2003. Over the years I've had many fascinating Sprout observations. I've seen him fish during the night. I once observed him watching huge snowflakes fall. Another time I saw him carefully removing ice from his leg feathers. He can do an astonishing vanishing act when being mobbed and pursued by crows by diving full speed into a tree cavity. What makes me pretty confident it's been the same owl all these years comes from knowing his habits and habitats. I suppose there's a chance it hasn't been the same owl, but something just tells me it's him.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Nov 15, 2014 8:15 AM - 11:30 AM
36 species

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
American Tree Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pics, and very cool to know it's the same individual!