Empty Nesting

Look 'hoo' is out of the nest! When I visited this great horned owl family previously, this juvenile was still in the nest while its sibling had ventured out to a nearby branch. Now they are both out of the nest and will not return. Young may leave the nest as early as 5 weeks old by hopping onto branches and begin flying at 9-10 weeks of age.

Seeing as how this is graduation season, are there any human parents out there experiencing empty nest feelings??

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend and thank you for following along!

✌️🦉 Colin


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Saw-Whet! Say What??

"I saw it!"

"Saw what?"

"A saw-whet!"

"Say what???"

That's right, I saw it! The northern saw-whet owl. At 7-8 inches in height and weighing less then 4 ounces, it is one of the smallest owls in North America and we are on the northern edge of its range here in Southcentral Alaska. In fact, saw-whets just started showing up in this area within the past 10 years. They are elusive little creatures and mostly nocturnal.

Have a great Memorial Day out there and enjoy this last day of the holiday weekend!

Colin


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Catchlight

Several years ago a seasoned photographer taught me that catchlight in your subject’s eyes can make the difference between a meaningful image and mediocrity. This holds true for portraits as well as wildlife.

Yesterday evening there was just the right amount of atmospheric moisture to create a quality of light so superb that the golden hour had a reddish glow. I’d been following the calls of this great horned owl until I finally located it. To my dismay, it was perched on a branch just out of the direct light. When it turned its head to size me up, the last rays of sunlight illuminated its right eye, creating this dramatic pose.

 

 

Great Horned Owl

Exactly one year ago, a pair of great horned owls began making regular appearances on my evening walks near the Nature Center. After a few days of observing them, I began to pick up on some of their behaviors and routines and for the next month, I spent countless hours photographing them, often while they were hunting. With the current abundance of food in the area (ducklings), I've been scanning the trees, hoping for an owl sighting. Yesterday evening, I got that opportunity.

Shot in the Dark

For the past couple weeks, both morning and night, under varying light and backgrounds, I have been trying to capture an image of a great-horned owl taking flight. Focusing on a bird in flight is challenging enough in broad daylight but when the sunlight has retreated and your subject is nothing more than a silhouette against a cobalt sky, it is quite literally a shot in the dark.

This evening, as I watched one of the owls perched in a usual spot waiting for its mate to show, I heard the tell-tale screech directly behind and turned around to see the second owl in a tree barely 30 feet away, looking directly at me. Knowing this particular owl tended to move around frequently, I reasoned that it would take flight again momentarily. As I set up and waited, something told me this would be my moment. My face was glued to the viewfinder for several minutes until the owl fell forward and spread its wings for me. I had but one shot at nailing this as the flash takes a moment to recharge after firing at full power, and that one shot was all it took.

Shortly afterward, a sow black bear with three little cubs showed up, followed by a moose. I smiled with gratitude, knowing I'd come away with the image I wanted.