Saturday, December 27, 2014

Three Owls!

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Though it's presently raining as I write, we actually had a few hours of sunshine on Christmas Day. I had some time to myself before our traditional family Yuletide gathering, so I made a couple of stops to check in on a few owls in the area. Given the incredible number of Snowy Owls in Wisconsin with this irruption, it wasn't difficult to find one. In fact, I found three.

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Two Great Horned Owls were snoozing at their longtime roosting site, but both were fairly obstructed by tree branches. Sprout, the Barred Owl of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, was also enjoying what was a rare appearance by the sun. It's very gratifying to observe owls doing what they're supposed to be doing during daylight hours. I just wish everyone who watches or photographs them would treat them with the respect they need and deserve.

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From Black Swamp Bird Observatory:

Owls are among the most charismatic of all bird families, and observing them can be a joyful experience. But these are sensitive species, and understanding their behavior can help make seeing them a much more meaningful experience for the observer - and provide much safer outcomes for the owls.

Here are a few pointers that can help reduce the disturbance of roosting owls:

  • Allow adequate space, observe from a distance
  • Limit movement, and move slowly 
  • Speak in a whisper, or not at all
  • Avoid eye contact when possible
  • Understand / recognize stressed behavior 
  • Don’t overstay your welcome
  • Limit visits and party size
  • If the bird is on private property, in a place where it would be easily disturbed by too much foot traffic, or in an area where observations pose a danger to observers (ie. near busy roads, etc.), you should consider not sharing its whereabouts

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell