Eastern Screech owls are among one of the most common owls in many areas, but their small size and retiring nature make them very difficult to find. Nesting in cavities, their whinnying and spooky calls can be heard most readily at night in the mating season. Many people are shocked when they find out that these owls often live close to their homes in ravines and other natural areas.
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to learn of an Eastern Screech owl family that had nested in a local park. While extremely hard to find (and often only found because of other birds mobbing them), I had a few successful photo sessions with them. The young “owlet” fledglings were especially cute with their comical, big eyes and downy feathers. To my surprise and disappointment, I have not been able to find them this year, and only saw them briefly early in the season last year.
I’ll post some adults next!
Ottawa was host to at least one hawk owl last winter. They are more common at those latitudes, but still don’t occur that often; in fact I haven’t seen one this year, although there have been a few scattered reports. The light was better than on my previous trips to the local hawk owl the previous year.
Raptors are always one of my favourite subjects to photograph. Their size makes them easy to spot and they are generally more approachable in the winter, and the absence of leaves on trees makes them even easier to spot as they often hunt on roadsides.
One of the more unusual owls for a southern area Northern Hawk Owl. We had one over-winter near Hamilton in 2008 and it stayed for about two months. It was an unprecedented bird for the area, and many people saw it during its stay. A small, falcon-like owl, it lives up to its name – hunting by day and mostly by sight. They can be quite aggressive, and show little fear of people.