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4.9.17  Thanks to a lead, I arrived at a Great Horned Owl nest east of the Deschutes River just in time to see the incubation stage.  This is Mom, sitting on the nest.  Dad is in a nearby tree watching my every move.  Fortunately for me, this nest is just off a quiet road, so I grab a couple of quick shots, then leave so I don’t disturb the family.

4.20.17  I began the day at sunrise from Catherine Creek before heading out to the Great Horned Owl nest.

I find Mama still incubating.  Great Horned Owls incubate for 30 to 37 days and typically use the old nest of another large bird.  Thanks to a resident who stopped to chat with me, I learned that the owl and a Red-tailed Hawk fight over this nest and another about a mile down the road each year.

I searched for and found Dad in a tree near the nest.  I know if there’s a Mama in the nest, Dad is likely nearby.  He keeps the family fed while she keeps the family warm.  When the chick is old enough to stay home alone, both parents hunt.

4.23.17  Mama still incubating and Dad was hunting in the distance.  Yes, in broad daylight!  Great Horned Owls eat a smorgasbord of mammals, birds, and reptiles.  The list is longer than any of my other raptors in this series.  I offer a link for you at the bottom of this post.

5.2.17   Great Horned Owl still in nest……..WAIT!  Is that a chick???

YES!  A fuzzy little Great Horned Owlet joins the family, I’m so excited to see it!!

5.4.17   I try to drive by slowly, stopping barely long enough to snap a few pictures and move on.  I am thrilled to see the owlet’s fuzzy little face.  There is a shoulder I can park on, but I can’t see the nest from there.  It’s all I can do to not park my car in the middle of the road and just watch!

5.11.17   Little Owlet misses nothing as I slowly drive by.  The nestling period for a Great Horned Owl is 42 days.  If this nest weren’t so far from home I’d be here every one of those 42 days!

Great Horned Owl parent watches me from a field.  Like most raptors, the female is larger than the male, so I think this is Mom.

I drive to a nearby Red-tailed Hawk nest, observe for an hour or so, then return to the owlet on my way back down to the river.  This has become my pattern allowing me to see the owlet twice without too much disturbance.

5.15.17   Mama gets some sleep while Junior keeps an eye out.

5.19.17  From time to time I park on the shoulder and try to peer around trees.  With my brown pants and green hoodie I get into the character of a tree.  Junior doesn’t buy it, so I leave.

5.23.17  I arrive to an EMPTY nest!  The Owlet is too young to fly away but I know they can climb in and out of their nest at 5 weeks.  I search but can’t find him and more worrisome is I find neither parent around.  I park and walk the entire length of this hardwood forest to no avail.

5.25.17   As I drive slowly by, searching the area for Junior again, I suddenly spot him high on a branch!  Two days ago I don’t remember if I looked UP so I have to laugh at myself!

He was more easily seen on my drive back down to the river after checking nearby nests.  Yes plural!  Today a woman stopped to chat for a moment and shared the location of yet another Red-tailed Hawk nest.  Thank you!!

5.30.17  The Great Horned Owlet continues to mature each time I find him.  Owls are silent when they fly and their feathers are oh so soft.  Most raptor rehabilitation centers have a ‘Birds of Prey’ program where you can see for yourself.

Owls can live long lives ~ I believe I read one was found that was 28 years old in the wild; and in captivity one turned 50 at a zoo.  Those admitted to rehabilitation centers have typically been hit by a car, shot, electrocuted, or caught in barbed wire.  They can also starve if food sources are scarce.

6.3.17   I leave most mornings in time to see the sun come up on my way to check nests.

Each morning I wonder if the Owlet will still be here.  Yes!  There he is, perched on a branch closer to the field than to the road.

On my way back down he’s perched on a different branch, close enough to see those long sharp talons.

6.8.17   Today was gray, rainy, and looked pretty miserable for the little Owlet.

6.10.17  I saw a parent sitting on a snag near the field, but didn’t see the Owlet, so decided to park and look around.  You can barely see the parent, he blends in so well with his environment.

All of a sudden, the Owlet burst out in front of me and took off in flight.  Sorry little guy, didn’t mean to startle you!!

He flew across the field….

…and landed near some pretty wildflowers.  Soon he’ll fly away and not look back.

6.13.17   The Owlet is getting more and more difficult to locate, but yay, I found him again.  I’m grateful this road gets so little traffic, and I apologize to the residents if I ever block your lane.

On my way down the hill, he was more out in the open, but started to climb down the branch at my arrival.  I want to emphasize that I try my best to not interfere, interrupt or otherwise disrupt any activity, so I quickly move on.

6.15.17  Another day of rain, but at least it’s a light rain.  Owlet continues to mature.

6.17.17  My last sighting of the Owlet was a warm and sunny day.  Had I known this was my last opportunity with him, I’d have stayed a little longer soaking in those beautiful feathers and mesmerizing eyes.  I can only hope that I get this lucky again next year…..

For more information about Great Horned Owls:  Cornell’s All About Birds, Audubon, and International Owl Center  There are many more pages to check, these will get you started.

The introductory post in this series where you’ll find links to my other nests as I post them is Empty Nest

 


I spent two glorious days at Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge, thanks to Julee at Mt Adams Lodge for inviting me to lead a group of people on a bird walk.

It felt delicious to catch a sunrise without rolling out of bed at 3am to arrive in time.

During my preview tour of the refuge, I spotted a trio of Northern Harrier Fledglings.

It was delightful watching them practice take-off and landing in a field off Laurel Road.

On my preview and the walking tour, we found Four-Spot Skimmers ~ no they are not birds, but wonderful creatures with wings.

There were plenty of Western Bluebirds actively feeding families in nest boxes.

A few Western Kingbirds could be seen on fence and utility wires.

A Hairy Woodpecker high in a snag.  We decided he was still learning the ways of the world as he scrambled his way to the top.

American Kestrel on a wire off the main highway.

Bunny Rabbit!!!

Western Meadowlarks were plentiful, I love their song.

We heard Sandhill Cranes, but they didn’t venture close to us.

Cliff Swallow fledglings begged for food from their parents and each other.

Saw a herd of Rocky Mountain Elk shortly after sunrise while driving around the refuge before our after-breakfast-bird-walk.

Ruffled feathers on this Western Bluebird from feeding all his babies?!!

Tri-colored Blackbird sitting on a refuge sign begged to have his portrait taken.

I found Fireweed in several spots around the refuge, Community Forests and Mt Adams Lodge.

I’m not quite comfortable identifying warblers, but I am pretty sure this IS a warbler!

There were Mariposa Lilies growing in several spots.

Eastern Kingbirds were in their ‘usual locations’ on the refuge.

Another Western Meadowlark singing for me.

Common Yellowthroats were also seen in several places on the refuge and beyond.

Red-winged Blackbird mom heading back to her nest to feed the kids.

I found Common Paintbrush in a couple of spots on Kreps Road.

Lucky me to see this deer with TRIPLETS!  I could not stop and grab my camera fast enough!!  Glad no one was behind me on the road!!

I have a great butterfly book, but I couldn’t find this butterfly in it.  If you know the identity, please share!

I happened upon this Twelve-spot Skimmer!

I was given a lead that this Western Wood Pewee had a nest near the viewing platform on the Willard Springs Trail but no one in my group could find it.  He entertained us as we searched for his nest with our binoculars.

Spotted a few Dark-eyed Juncos during our walk.

An unidentifiable (to me) hummingbird resting as we hiked by.

Late in the afternoon this Tiger Lily glowed against the dark forest background.

An American Robin watched us watching him as we walked the trail.

This Red-breasted Sapsucker fledgling was so cute but alas wasn’t there when I took the group back to his neighborhood.

Yet another Four-spot Skimmer ~ aren’t they beautiful?!!  They were a golden glow in sunlight.

Tree Swallows are in many of the nest boxes along the Willard Springs Trail.

Group photo taken by Carya Meacham Bair from the bird walk event sponsored by Mt Adams Lodge.

I think a Sunset over Mt Adams on the refuge is a good closing photo.  A fabulous time was had by all!

My next several posts will spotlight a major undertaking that used ALL my time this spring and early summer.  I can’t wait to share it with you, but will take some time to organize my thoughts and photos….stay tuned!

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My first field trip during Winter Wings was with Paul Bannick in and around the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

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I paid close attention to his every word in yesterday’s workshop, so my camera was ready and I was ready!

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About a dozen photographers had plenty of room to spread out in our school bus that took us to the first eagle sighting.

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Still early, a bit dark, we had learned how to let more light into our sensors and clicked away as the pair of eagles came and went from their nest.

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It was difficult to choose which images to share out of the many I took.

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The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge was amazing in spite of overcast skies and threat of rain.

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We watched swans and geese take off and land, especially after an eagle ‘fly by’.

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There were literally thousands of Tundra Swans and Greater White-fronted Geese.

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Tundra Swans are another of my favorites.

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We saw a few Sandhill Cranes and lucky us, we caught them dancing!

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I didn’t count the Bald Eagles but they were plentiful … and as usual in a group, fighting over food.

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There were also thousands of Snow Geese.

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They were especially sensitive to eagle fly overs and took off at every sighting of a Bald Eagle.

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They usually landed not too distant from where they left.

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Looks like a pair of Tundra Swans having some alone time away from the group.

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I have a series from this incident…a Great Horned Owl flew across a field then landed in the grass where we could barely see him.  A Northern Harrier buzzed overhead & dove near the owl several times.  Can you see the owl?  He’s directly below the Northern Harrier in this shot, hidden by grass.

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There was a plethora of Red-tailed Hawks floating in the sky for us to capture.steider-studios-field-trip-bannick-2-17-17-18

Bald Eagles and other raptors perch on utility poles.  Generally there is only one bird per pole, so this shot with an adult and juvenile Bald Eagle was fun to see.

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To my delight we also found a Rough-legged Hawk!  I am getting to know this raptor quite well.

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Another Red-tail ~ a juvenile that hasn’t fully developed his red tail yet.

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I had to yell “stop the bus!” when I saw this coyote in a field.  I rarely can grab my camera in time at home when I see them and he was so beautiful.

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He stood there posing for a bit then ran off with a glance over his shoulder.

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Our last stop for the day was back in Klamath Falls where Black-capped Night Herons roost in trees along the Link River near the Favell Museum.

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We noticed Barrow’s Goldeneye in the river as we watched the herons…

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…and a few interesting Mallard hybrids!

Later in the afternoon I enjoyed a class learning intermediate and advanced raptor ID that I am most grateful for!  My next post will chronicle a fabulous field trip in search of raptors.

Our keynote speaker that night was Chas Glatzer.  My friend and I sat in the back, expecting to leave early because we were so tired from a full day that began at 5am.  We were literally the last to leave.  We didn’t want to miss an opportunity to talk with and thank Chas for an exceptional presentation.  I love that all three keynote speakers are ethical about capturing their wildlife shots.  Chas’s parting words still ring in my ear as it applies to wildlife photography, “Do the right thing”.

I don’t think I’ve addressed ethics in my posts, but if you haven’t thought about it I would never bait my subject or interfere with its life in any way.  I don’t whistle, rustle the brush or do anything that would turn its attention away from eating, feeding it’s young, sleeping, hunting or even just to direct it’s attention to me.  I’m truly grateful and appreciate any opportunity I have to see birds and wildlife; and love sharing what I capture with you.

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