How To Find An Owl – Lesson 1

I’m beginning to wonder if owls are real birds.Now, I’ve seen owls as the list below reveals, but for me to go out and FIND owls all by myself, well, it just isn’t happening. I’m an owl finding dud.
(I wonder if going out alone, on a Thursday afternoon has anything to do with it. Seems to me Owl Finding would be better on a Saturday night, don’tcha think?)

Anyhow, I’ve been lamenting my lack of owlness to friend and owl meister Scott Rashid. (Check out Scott’s new book, Small Mountain Owls!) He thinks it’s quite hilarious that I’ve only seen one Eastern Screech Owl, (snark!) one Long-eared Owl, (cough!) two Barn Owls, one Pygmy Owl, (snort!) one Flammulated Owl (thank you Carol!) many Great Horned Owls (yeah, yeah) one Western Screech Owl (choke!), one Snowy Owl (not too shabby) and one or two Saw-whet Owls (helping Scott band, so do they REALLY count?) – in my life. In probing further into my lack of owlness, after catching his breath and making a few, um, incredulous and unprintable remarks about my lack of skill in this area, realizing I’m dead serious in wanting some help, I get this by email. My first test!

“How to find an Owl:”These two photos © Scott Rashid
After spending far too much time finding the owls and MAKING SURE of the numbers of owls in the pictures, I sent him my guess and received this reply: “Perfect, I knew you could do it.”
(what’s YOUR guess?)
In a picture maybe, but how about in real life?
So we went out together not long ago, mainly intent on finding the Snowy Owl that’s visiting Colorado, but also to drive though and study habitat, listen to Scott wax eloquent on his owl finding adventures, and get out and look for owls – our main target of the day after the delightful Snowy were Long-eareds. We didn’t find any that day, but I did get a good start to understanding owl habitat. And a really nice LOOOOONG walk alongside a very long stand of junipers.
So, generously, Scott took me out for another installment in my “Owlducation”. We had heard of Short-eared Owls nearby and went looking for them first. Below are two pictures of prime Short-eared Owl wintering habitat.Nice habitat, but no Short-eareds today. So on we went out east into the Prairie, intent on discovering good Long-eared Owl habitat. Look, here’s some.Thick brushy areas surrounded by miles of open prairie. They seem fond of human-planted juniper stands.Especially fond of dense thickets like this one. There are SIX Long-eared Owls in this picture!One..
Two..
This one flew to a cottonwood tree. It’s so fascinating to see how well they blend in!

Four.
Is that a lovely intense face or what? A couple of the owls stayed in parts so dense all we could find were hints of their presense. It was such a great experience to spend time with these owls and begin to get a grasp on where they like to be and when.
We soaked up all the owlness we could stand for the moment and softly walked away, leaving them to their dense safe thicket in the prairie.

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8 Responses to How To Find An Owl – Lesson 1

  1. CarolNH says:

    Love your photos…!!! I have not seen ANY owls in the wild…Have heard them, but not seen them…Loved lesson #1…

  2. Very cool. I am extremely owl deficient. We have lots of Great Horned Owls in my neighborhood. I’ve seen a couple of Short-ears at Bear River Refuge in Utah. I’ve seen one N. Saw-whet in a downtown Tempe, AZ tree and one Western Screech in a nest box in Pearl Idaho, but that is it! I would love to find some Long-eared. Oh, I did see Great Gray Owls this last year near Cascade, Idaho.

  3. Great post with perfect visuals. Lesson #1 leaves you craving #2.

  4. Becca Reid says:

    What a great learning process!

  5. DaveABirding says:

    Those are some great shots. Maybe that will get me out owl hunting on the plains soon. From the pics it looked fairly mid-dayish, so 3pm may not be so bad after all!

  6. Amy says:

    Great post, Connie! Scott sounds like a good friend to have. 🙂 I’m owl-deficient myself.

  7. DaveABirding says:

    Didn’t find all the cool Owls you described in your post, but did get a Great Horned in a cemetery on my way to Windsor this weekend. Thanks for the reminder/inspiration!

  8. Al says:

    I love these pics! They are a perfect representation of what an Owl in a tree looks like! : )

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