2017 has been a HOOT! Had two incredible Owl sightings that resulted in great photo ops.
I traveled half way across my state of Michigan to check out a location where one of my favorite Owls has been sighted on a daily basis. Short-eared Owls are the most diurnal of all the northeastern owls. They are most often observed in the late afternoon and at dawn or dusk. In flight they will battle other Short -Eared Owls and Northern Harriers for hunitng grounds and food. The arial show is quite impressive and good entertainment.
The Short-eared Owl is listed as a vulnerable species worldwide and somewhat common in North America, South America, Eurasia and many oceanic islands. However, in Michigan it is listed as an endangered species, having been observed in less than a dozen counties state-wide within the last three decades. The Short-eared Owl has been showing a steady decline in numbers for the past several years in most of its range. The Short-eared Owl is a medium sized owl, measuring 13-17 inches in length. As the name suggests the owl displays short ear tufts but is accompanied by a heightened sense of hearing. This owl has a large head with big eyes and a wide wingspan ranging from 33-41 inches, more than 2.5 times its own body length. The coloration of streaked brown and buff helps it blend in with its surroundings and can make it difficult to identify.
Another surprise great photo op was of the so cute Northern Saw Whet Owl, while checking out known habitat of theirs, I found one perched in a low canopied tree. Amazing is that is was fairly open without any obstructing branchies directly in front of it, while facing directly into the rising sun. The eyes were beaming from the fantastic lighting. What a HOOT!
This cool sighting came while out on a hike for photo ops. Blue Jays alarm calls kindly directed me to this Great Horned Owl. He was snoozing up high in the tree soaking up the rays!