Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wild Wednesday, Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is an amazing, mysterious bird. On clear nights we can sometimes hear them in the woods calling that erie "Whoo-hoo-hoo" The best time of year, that I've found to view owls and hawks, or any bird of prey for that matter is in late January and February. Not only are the trees barren and the woods are bare, but this is the birds of prey mating season, and they seem to be more active.
Most times when I've had the pleasure of seeing a nocturnal bird of prey has been in the dead of winter, with the exception of the last photograph in this post. This was taken in June of 2005. It was either a juvenile bird or it was injured. It stayed near the pond for three days, and wouldn't fly when we approached it to take pictures. The two photos at the top were taken at the Birds of Prey Photography Workshop at the Howell Nature Center. (View the "Fun Stuff and Good Reads" page for their information and website) It is a wonderful program for anyone interested in nature or photography.
I also recommend attending the Owl Nights workshop at the HNC. It is an evening event where the first half of the workshop you get to see real owls up close in a classroom setting. The handlers bring the owls right up to the audience. They teach you fascinating facts about owls and their behaviors. We saw owl pellets too, which are the regurgitated remains of the bones, feathers and anything else non-digestible to the owl. We had a hawks nest once in our yard, and everyday I would search the ground below for pellets... didn't find any. We also learned that one of the tragic causes for owl deaths is second hand poisoning. When people poison mice, the owls sometimes eat the mice before they die, and are in turn, poisoned themselves. All of the captive birds at the Howell Nature Center have been injured in some way, so that they are unable to be released into the wild. They are essentially a rehabilitation center and try to care for and release as many animals as they can. The ones that stay behind are used for educational purposes, and help bring awareness to people in hope of preventing more animals from being harmed. 
All of the photos posted on Iron Oaks Farm blog are taken by Jennifer or Zach Sartell (unless otherwise noted) and some are available for purchase. Please e-mail me at for print prices.

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