Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Snowy owl spotting

HALLIE EPHRON: Last week the Washington Post reported a snowy owl had been spotted, hanging about in DC's Union Station. Think: Harry Potter's Hedgewig.

The one in DC is finding plenty to eat--rats and pigeons--and is reported to be "doing marvelously." It's also been spotted at the National Mall and at Reagan National Airport, as well as on the roof of a house in the area and atop a church.


Snowy owls like to congregate on the tarmac here in Boston at Logan Airport, not a safe place for them to hang out. My husband once went on a local Audubon Society birding trip to the marsh surrounding Logan's runways to spot them. They're gorgeous creatures, and I look forward to one day seeing one myself some day.

Owls aren't rare but they're hard to spot because they're nocturnal. And spend a lot of of their time standing absolutely still and blending in with their surroundings. They can turn their heads nearly all the way around with nary a ruffled feather. Your best chance of spotting one is at dusk when they start to hunt for food.

I vividly remember the first owl I ever saw. We were traveling with a guide in Trinidad (I think) and our driver stopped and pointed out a good sized owl sitting absolutely still on the post of a fence bordering a field. I never would have spotted it myself. We stopped and got out. Trained our binoculars on it. It took off. Majestic. Flapping its broad wings more like a moth than a bird. What a sight.

Elf owls are at the other end of the spectrum.


They're tiny, sparrow-sized with enormous amber eyes. One roosted in a telephone pole across the road from our motel room in Madera Canyon, south of Tucson, and at dusk every night we'd stand out on the road with all the other birders at the motel, waiting for that bird to pop up in its hole. Some people brought powerful flashlights. Dirty pool, in my opinion. But the owl didn't seem to mind.


This is the tree across the street from our house which had been home to screech owls until this last fall's storm took down the tree branch above their nesting hole. But I have this picture to remember them by.

And here's' the fantastic Halloween mask my daughter made this year -- a tribute to  owls. So wonderfully creepy, like a real owl, the head rotates 180 degrees.


Wishing all of you at least one owl spotting in your life. Maybe it will be a ghostly barn owl or a grand snowy or a truly comical burrowing owl (they pop up up on long legs from their roadside burroughs to inspect passers-by).  Or make your way down to Madera Canyon and you'll surely see that elf owl... along with a scores of humming birds and woodpeckers and, if you're lucky, a magnificent trogon or two.

I'd love to hear if there's a bird that's found a home in your memory.

102 comments:

  1. Although we've glimpsed eagles and hawks in flight over the Pine Barrens, they never come very close. Mostly it's the wild turkeys we see as they wander through . . .
    We hear the owls and occasionally catch a glimpse of one in flight, but they're pretty elusive . . . .

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    1. Right, eagles and hawks hunt in the daytime. And of course wild turkeys are fearless and in-your-face.

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  2. I saw a white owl years ago when we visited Tiruchirapalli in India. (My husband is from India.) It was a remarkable experience: We were staying at his mother's house in an upstairs room and the shutters were open. It came flying by and happened to spot me through the open window, and then it flew right in and landed on the dresser. It regarded me gravely for a couple of minutes (I was transfixed) and then flew out again and on its way to wherever. I have never forgotten those moments. And nothing like that ever happened again.

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    1. Wow! That's positively magical, Elizabeth. Wow. Like a visit from the "beyond." I wonder if it was a barn owl. White and spooky looking. I've read that they're found in India.

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  3. I wouldn't think snowys would hang out so far south! What a treat for DC area birders. And your daughter's mask is amazing.

    The first time I went to Plum Island in 1980, my birder boyfriend pointed out a snowy owl. Magical! I must get myself over to Salisbury Beach or Plum Island this winter, where they hang out.(For non-northeasterners, Plum Island is a ten-mile long barrier island with a wildlife refuge on the southern half, a treasure for birders, and Salisbury is just north, both with salt marshes on the side away from the ocean.)

    I first saw a Great Horned in Mt. Auburn Cemetery in the early eighties. Huge, looking like a cat with its ear tufts. Last fall I was hiking in Vermont and we startled a big owl. The silence of its flight was stunning.

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    1. The first bird walk I ever took was at Plum Island. I've never seen a Great Horned... sounds magnificent.

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    2. Come up and go birding with me in the spring, Hallie! PI is only a few miles away.

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  4. I have seen snowy owls and Great Horned owls in Ottawa. And I sometimes come across wild turkeys or blue or white herons while walking along the pathways adjacent to the river.

    But living in Ontario, the most unique bird I remember seeing was a tropical bird in Kona, Hawaii in 2009. I don't remember what type of bird it is. Can anyone ID it?
    https://www.amazon.ca/photos/share/4jHN8ir5F8EWSRQyYNZNtQTkNrfWOT1BcoFwlTy7ndx

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    1. I think that's a grey crowned crane - I've only seen them in zoos.

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    3. HALLIE: Good eye! I looked it up, and it sure does look like the same bird.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_crowned_crane
      But the grey crowned crane is native to Uganda, so I wonder who brought it over to Kona to wander around the resort grounds?

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    4. Probably the resort. They roam around in the open at the San Diego Zoo.

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  5. This winter, we've been crawling into bed to the soft sound of owls hooting in our neighborhood. One night we listened for at least an hour as they hooted back and forth, sometimes overlapping. It's magical. Neither of us has seen them yet. We need to plan to dress and go out looking for them next time we hear one. They are hard to spot.

    I did see a tiny owl one night several years ago when I took the dog out in the yard for his last outing. It was only about 15 feet away and I was amazed that it didn't fly off. At the time, I didn't think to grab one of the bird books to look up what I'd seen, which is what we usually do.

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    1. Judy, it was very likely a screech owl. They are very small, and fairly common in the Eastern half of the US. We have them here in Ohio and Kentucky, too.

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    2. Record the sound, Judy - then you can go on line and match it up. As Karen says, could be a screech owl. That's what ours was. A long descending note is their call.

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  6. I've seen lots of eagles and hawks - including our multiple nesting pairs of bald eagles here in Pittsburgh. The improvement in air and water quality has brought them back. I think we have at least 8 nesting pairs around the city now.

    And, as you say, turkeys.

    But the only place I've ever seen an owl is at the National Aviary. I hear them, of course, but I've never see them in the wild.

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    1. Yes eagles and hawks AND falcons have become so much more common since they're no longer being decimated by DDT.

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  7. A few months back, my son and I saw an owl in our neighborhood. I spotted its large shape landing in a big cedar tree. We listened and watched and finally walked under the tree and looked up and were able to spot it. It was most likely a barred owl, although we also have Great Horned owls here in Portland. We have neighborhood Cooper's Hawks and have seen bald eagles and osprey near our local rivers. Seeing one of these amazing creatures is always a delight.

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    1. Portland *Oregon* or *Maine*... guessing Oregon - they've got the trees for them.

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  8. I haven't seen an owl, but I had one call to me while presenting a play outdoors at a winery outside Sonoma. Just as intermission was ending, I blew horn and an owl always answered me.

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  9. It's owl season in Cincinnati. I listened to the different hoots on the Cornell website but it's difficult to match a recording with our local owls. If they roost close to the house, the dogs freak out.

    Most memorable bird sighting: my first bald eagle in the wild, on the banks of the James River near Williamsburg. Silent flight, huge wingspan.

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    1. Margaret, the easiest owl call to recognize is the most common Barred Owl call, very distinctive: "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for YOU-ALLL"

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    2. That is the best first line for a book I have ever heard,

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    3. I once watched an eagle flying overhead when we were on a raft floating down the Snake River. Gorgeous.

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    4. I just about freaked out, and felt lucky all day the first time I spotted a bald eagle in the wild. I'd seen one up close when I shared my office space with the Birds of the World show at the State Fair of Texas, but never a wild one until I spotted one swooping over the lake in a nearby park one morning. Awesome!

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  10. We have a lot of Barred Owls, Great Horned and Screech Owls here, and Steve has seen them all. I hear them, and can recognize the calls, but my night vision is not great. The Barred Owls get to hooting at one another in the woods behind us and they can sound like a troupe of monkeys, very LOUD. A baby Barred Owl used to perch on our neighbor's swing set in the early evening, years ago, so we could get a really good look at it.

    In California there used to be lots of Barn Owls perched on fence posts at night; I wonder how the fires have affected their population. And the crazy, ground-dwelling Burrowing Owls are diurnal, and easy to spot in the daytime. You can see them popping up out of holes in prairie dog colonies out West.

    Both times we've gone to Africa our guides found owls to point out to us. They're just incredible birds.

    Over Christmas we stayed with my daughter in her new home at the edge of a golf course in Traverse City. One evening, just at dusk, a huge white bird flew past the big windows overlooking the course. Right away I knew it was a Snowy Owl, and although I never got a better look at it myself, everyone else did over the next couple days. A thrilling sight!

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    1. Just remembered that I wrote a children's book on the life of the Great Horned Owl in the 1990s. I sent it to a couple dozen publishers (there still were that many then), but none of them bit.

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    2. Karen, you should publish it yourself!

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  11. I have seen a snowy owl (I live in NY near the Canadian border). One evening we saw a barn owl in the tree in our front yard. I've seen barred owls and on a trip out west many years ago saw the burrowing owls - comical little things.
    Hallie - Your daughter's mask is a work of art, as magical as an owl.
    Have any of you in New England, or birding friends of yours, seen the Steller's Sea Eagle that is wandering through the area?

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    1. I missed the Stellar's, JC. First it was way south of Boston, and then it was seen in Maine - and I'm halfway in between. Apparently a great life bird!

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    2. I had to look up the Steller's Sea Eagle - Distinctive looking! Apparently it was near Boothbay Harbor at Christmas time.

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  12. This is completely fascinating! It makes me wonder… Have I ever seen an owl? How could I not have seen an owl?
    We had a gorgeous hawk perched on our back fence, majestic and regal, a couple of months ago. And once, in our backyard, there were 11 Blue Jays! 11! It was gorgeous, and kind of terrifying!

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    1. HANK: Growing up in Toronto, I heard plenty of Blue Jays, but rarely saw even one.

      Did you know a group of blue jays is called "a party" or "a band"?
      Those 11 Blue Jays were having a great party in your backyard!

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    2. They're so territorial, it had to be springtime. Fledglings will hang out together but I don't think adult blue jays hang out in flocks.

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    3. Grace! That is fantastic! Blue Jay rockstars!

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  13. This is so cool! Great pictures, Hallie.

    Two first owl sightings are vivid in my memory. The first was a great horned owl. My neighbor had been complaining about pigeons in her back yard. In Florida stores sell great horned owl statues to allegedly frighten the pigeons away. I went for my run one evening and noticed what I thought was a statue on my neighbor's fence post. Then this bird, about the size of a mini-van, took flight over my head.

    The second occurred when we lived in Fort Denaud. A hair-raising scream sounded from outside. We flipped on the outside lights and sitting on our balcony rail was something we thought at first glance was a chicken. Then it opened its beak again and we discovered it was a screech owl.

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    1. Hmmm. Maybe someone else who's an expert would know, but screech owls, despite their name, do not screech. They whinny or give soft trills. Hawks DO screech. When they're being chased by smaller birds. There are probably owls that screecn, too.

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  14. Hallie, that mask is a true work of art! And I could definitely see it popping up in a story--some young-ish woman, traumatized by her past--and in the night, in the shadows, that head appearing, turning 180 degrees while the body beneath it never moves....

    My first home was across the road from a river and situated on the edge of a ravine. Tree branches formed a tunnel the length of the driveway. A Great Horned owl would come floating silently through that tunnel at dusk. One evening, it perched on a branch outside my study window--what a visit! And here, where I live now, the most unique sighting was the day a bald eagle rested in a tree at the back of my property for hours. I managed to get close enough to snap a photo--magnificent! I would love to see a snowy owl--and that Stellar's Sea Eagle--wow!!

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    1. I'd love to see a great horned owl... they look like a stuffed animal with those tufted, stand-up ears and oh-so-wise expression. Like something out of Winnie the Pooh.

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  15. I love owls! When I was a youngster living in Argyle NY, there was a marvelous used book store called The Owl's Barn. "Store" is a misnomer - this was an entire barn, with room after room and shelves creating a labyrinth of wonders. And of course, they had owls everywhere - wooden, metal, stuffed, macrame (it was the 1970s.)

    The most recent wonderful birds in my life were the pair of turkey buzzards that took up residence in our neighborhood last summer. Don't laugh! Their heads are ugly, but their flight is beautiful, with great long swoops low over the terrain - they hunt carcasses by smell. They would sit on the peak of our barn and watch the world going by, an act that would drive the Maine Millennial's dog INSANE.

    Now, in the dead of winter, we've got their co-workers, the crows, performing their duties. Every morning I take any mice remains caught in one of the mousetraps outside and toss them into the road. They disappear quickly. They get a bad rap, but imagine what the world would be like without carrion birds!

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    1. Indeed! We would all be better off if we lived in concert with the rest of the world. I keep trying to make this case for coyotes, too.

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    2. On my first guided birdwalk we saw (of course) turkey vultures - and I learned the word DIHEDRAL which refers to their wing position as they seem to be floating on air.

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  16. I have never seen a snowy owl but it would be wonderful, I'm sure. I don't think I've ever seen any owls and I'm not sure I've heard them, even here living in the woods. I get confused because I hear mourning doves all the time. There must be owls around though because I found and owl pellet. Or was it a pellet from another bird? I'm not sure.

    Hallie, your seeing an owl perched on a fence post reminded me of the time my young son and I were driving down the road and there was a magnificent hawk perched on a fence post right by the road. I asked my son if he saw it and he said it wasn't real, it was a fake one the farmers put up to scare . . he wasn't sure just what. I was pretty sure it was real so i backed up. Just as my son got a real good look the bird lifted his wings and took off. Yep, my son said. He's real.

    I think it was 2 years ago I was seeing Scarlet Tanagers everywhere. I had only ever seen one once before and it wasn't here. I believe I kept seeing the same bird several times. It felt like he had a message for me. If so, I don't know what it was, but it put a smile on my face so maybe that was the intention.

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    1. And OH WHAT AN AMAZING RED those scarlet tanagers are! I remember seeing my first one and thinking how much more brilliant they were than our own cardinals. One of the great pleasures of birding in Panama and Trinidad was seeing all the different varieties of tanagers - blue-gray, crimson-backed, dusky-faced...

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    2. I'm working my way up through the comments and se that I'm not the first to mention the wonderful Scarlet Tanager. Such a wonderful sight to behold!

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  17. It is funny how seeing an owl can be more memorable than other kinds of birds. The first time I saw a wild one, I was in college. My roommate and I both worked in the dining commons and one winter quarter we had the same breakfast shift, so we were walking across campus way before dawn, when a huge barn owl landed on a lamp post right in front of us. His flight was so quiet I probably wouldn't even have noticed except for a slight metallic noise that made me look up just in time to see him folding his wings as he stared down at us. It was magical. Years later, when J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, I could totally understand why she used owls as messengers.

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  18. My favorite owl sighting was many years ago when I was visiting a friend in Cave Creek, AZ. We were sitting on her patio in the evening and a great horned owl landed on a nearby building. It sat there for about ten minutes, backlit by the setting sun. A beautiful sight!

    I did see a snowy owl a few winters ago when there were quite a few of them in western New York, mostly around airports. My sister and I spotted one at a small airport near us. We also have short-eared owls around in the winter and I've seen a number of them hunting in the early evening.

    I miss the screech owls that nested in the maple tree in my front yard for a few years. The tree is gone now and so are the owls.

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    1. WIsh I'd seen that backlit great horned owl - fantastic silhouette.

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  19. I have seen 3 owls in my life. The first exploded into my view as I was driving along a straight, empty, isolated country road. It was winter and dark, but not stormy, though there was snow on the ground. The only light came from the reflections off the snow and headlights. An owl flew directly toward the windshield, the wingspan as wide as the glass, completely cutting off the view. I didn't now what it was at first but it flew on up and over so it was definitely a bird. Had to be an owl at that hour of the night and a great horned owl with that size wing. I stopped the car and let my heartrate return to normal, drove over the carrion and the road and went on my way. I assume the owl resumed eating.

    The second and third are not as thrilling, but maybe they are. A great horned owl sitting at the top of a ponderosa pine. At 100 feet off the ground, the bird still seemed imperious. The third is a little saw-whet that lives in a tree in the urban wood where I walk my dog. Even after someone pointed out that he was there, I had to refocus several times to see him. Unfortunately, his habitat is endangered partly because people want his photograph and partly because of the "managers" of that urban wood. I hope he finds another comfortable tree to hide inside.

    What remarkable creatures they are.

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    1. Wow, good thing you didn't hit that owl - Definitely would have done in your windshield.

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  20. Hallie, I’m a birdwatcher, too. I’ve seen an occasional snowy owl here in my town, and it’s always exciting.

    There are several nesting pairs of osprey that come to town every year. I know it’s spring when they arrive. The return of the egrets and the red-winged blackbirds also mark the beginning of spring for me.


    DebRo

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    1. All the marshy areas near us have nesting platforms that are reliably filled by osprey every spring and on through summer and into fall. Osprey platforms dot the marshes along the Amtrak rail line in Connecticut. Checking them out passes the time nicely.

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    2. I love spying the ospreys on the Cape.

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  21. Two or three years ago, a little owl came to one my maple trees for a couple of evenings. I don’t know what kind it was.

    In Quebec, we have UQROP, an organization that aims at the conservation of birds of prey and of their natural habitats. They provide care for the wounded, sick or orphaned ones.
    Their source of funding is a place not far from home called “ Chouette à Voir “ ( owl to see ). But in French, chouette also means fun, interesting.
    I visited this place where they keep the birds of prey that were not fit to be returned to their habitat after being treated . They have many kind of owls. The guides are very knowledgeable and interesting.

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    1. Sounds like our local Audubon sanctuary in the Blue Hills just south of Boston. There are always owls recovering so you can get a really good look at what's so elusive in the wild. And play recordings of their calls.

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  22. I backed my car out of my garage one day years ago and there was a young barn owl sitting on the railing by my front door! The owl spent a few weeks living in the evergreen tree near my front door and I'd see it every morning from an upstairs window. It was magnificent! Sadly, a blizzard hit and the evergreen was weighted down with heavy snow for a day and the little owl never returned. I still have pictures...somewhere.

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    1. What a nice memory! I'm guessing it found another home - they're resourceful.

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  23. I always look forward to them coming back, too - right now all we have are juncoes (snowbirds) and sparrows and the occasional cardinal for a splash of color. And a million robins, though I don't remember so many of them still hanging out into the winter. And ducks and geese. Tons of them.

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  24. I think baby owls are the most adorable thing ever. I’ve seen various owls on hikes but the prize was a great horned owl just sitting on a log in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Enormous

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  25. Thank you for this nudge down bird-memory lane, Hallie.

    We hear owls (likely Great Greys) up at the cottage on Lake Winnipeg, but my most impressionable bird memory is of our trip down to the southwest many years ago. We were hiking in maybe Organ Pipe National Park and when I rounded the bend in the trail, there, in front of me, was the most spectacular bird I had ever seen: It was a Scarlet Tanager. So colourful! Up here in the north, our birds are not so bright, so that bird's colour was astonishing and wonderful to me. I have that image vividly in mind to this day.

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    1. The color is amazing - they make cardinals look dull.

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  26. I'm still waiting for my first owl sighting. We sometimes hear them in the night at our cottage a few hours northeast of Toronto, but that's as close as I've come. Sigh.

    Great that so many of you have had the experience.

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    1. Go hunting a dusk - follow the sound - bring binoculars and a flashlight... Happy hunting!

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  27. Hallie, what a great post. Owls are so fascinating. I've never seen a Snowy, as they are accidental here, but have seen Barn owls and Barred owls and Great Horned Owls. We used to have a Great Horned in our neighborhood that we'd see regularly on nighttime walks. That wingspread is just amazing! They are really magical. Oh, we have screech owls here, too. We hear them but I've never seen one.

    My most memorable bird sighting would have to be the Indigo Bunting. This was on a friend's ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Rick and I were beside ourselves.

    But our weirdest bird experience was the morning of Snowmageddon last February. For hours as it started to snow we had flocks of robins everywhere. I mean not dozens but hundreds!! They stripped every edible berry off every tree on the property. I've never seen anything like it.

    Our latest bird thing is the neighborhood murder of crows. They are so fascinating to watch. Rick even has a crow call so he goes out and "talks" to them when they are in our trees.

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    1. Debs, my first Indigo bunting was on the same walk when I saw the Great Horned!

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    2. we used to get painted buntings at the birdfeeder out in Parker County. Gorgeous creatures!

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    3. Oh, I meant Painted Bunting. Duh.

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    4. PAINTED BUNTING! I'd so love to see one. Never have. Those robins must have been blown in by the storm. You get all kinds of weird birds blown in. The day after a storm is ideal birdwatching.

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    5. I've also never seen a Painted Bunting. They must be gorgeous.

      We have indigo buntings here, more at our Kentucky farm than here in Cincy, but I did see one here last summer.

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    6. I have yet to see a Painted Bunting, too, but I have seen Indigo Buntings, but not in several years.

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  28. Mourning doves are so pretty, have a wonderful sound, but are as dumb as a box of rocks. When we lived in Ohio a dove sat on a golf ball in our front flowerbed, trying to hatch it for days. It and its gang also liked to sit on my car, looking malevolent whenever I approached to drive it.

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    1. Ha ha! I had a mourning dove build a nest over my front door. After a few days it fell down, fortunately without any eggs in it, or at least none that I could see.

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  29. My mother and grandmother were both backyard birders, and the habit came down to me. The first bird I can remember learning to identify on sight was the brown thrasher, followed by the usual robins and cardinals and sparrows--all by the time I started school. I even participated in Cornell's Project Feederwatch for several years as an adult. I was amazed by the number of birds, and the different species, that came to the feeder outside my kitchen window. Birds are fascinating.

    I love owls, and used to hear them all the time when I lived in the woods out in the country, particularly the barred owls. I still hear them from time to time here in the city, and have found what might be owl pellets under the big oak tree in my back yard.

    By the way, I gave a shout out to you, Hallie, and Jungle Red Writers on my Weird Sisters blog post today. You inspired me.

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    1. Thanks, Gigi - Going over to Weird Sisters to have a look.
      I love the Cornell Feederwatch - I go to check out the Panama Fruit Feeder just about daily - we had a wonderful vacation there, watching the same feeder that's in the Feed from the porch at the inn. Lately not much has been going on there.

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  30. The only owls I’ve seen in the wild were flying silently overhead. However this past summer in Vermont there was a bald eagle sitting majestically in the tree outside the cottage. We got lots of pictures, it was very impressive. I heard lots of loons but didn’t see any. Then in Michigan we went kayaking on a river where we saw a lot of birds. The biggest blue heron I’ve ever seen. It was definitely a dinosaur.

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    1. The sheer size of a great blue, wings spread, is breathtaking. And those eagles can sit so still for so long, just asking to have their picture taken.

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  31. Hallie,

    When you said the snowy owl in DC was feeding on rats, I stopped reading for a second as I thought "Well of course the owl is feeding on rats...I'm surprised he (the owl) didn't head to Congress for a feast."

    I don't think I've ever seen an owl for myself though I'm sure that would be interesting. I don't have any bird associated memories. It's the one "pet" I've never owned and the only person I've known that had birds as pets had a parrot or two. But they were just bumps on a log, nothing really memorable about them.

    And I haven't had any "When Birds Attack" encounters that would make a memory for me either.

    I am flightless when it comes to bird stories it would appear.

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  32. Hallie, I'm also a birder nerd! We have 5 different kinds of native owls living on our property in the northern part of East Texas, and a few occasional migrating visitors, including a Snowy which once almost gave me a heart attack as I was walking along the creek with my faithful outdoor barn cat Jacqueline (who thought she was a dog, lol)back to my favorite spot at the elbow of the wooded creek, and it swooped over my head making a strange kind of hissing/whistling sound that freaked us both out for a few minutes! Anyway, I've kept a few lists through the years of bird sightings, including one on an old yellow legal tablet of just the birds sighted on our old farmland, where our log home is surrounded by very old trees, woods, the creek and a stock tank (pond) full of fish. We even resorted to adding some fake (decoy) owls outside around the house to try to deter pesky varmints & woodpeckers and flickers from pecking on our log walls, especially around our bedroom!

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    1. Woodpeckers can do serious damage! And I wonder if a snowy owl couldn't take a cat - I'd think so. They are serious predators.

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    2. Yes, to both! After I caught my breath, Jackie almost jumped into my arms and I remembered she was prey, but I'm glad it was me tromping along with my big walking stick that startled the Snowy! Whew! We high-tailed it back home using a shortcut across the muddy creek!

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    3. Lynn, that must have been a shock for sure! I want to see birds, especially owls, up close, but I don't want them to scare me out of my wits.

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  33. Owls have fascinated me since childhood and become my totem animal as an adult. Such a history--and Athena's companion! Where I live in Northern California we are blessed with a redwood grove not far from me where spotted owls next annually. The whole neighborhood tiptoes by and waits to see the nestlings emerge and start perching and then fledging. (I'm an inept oldster and new to this wonderful JRW, but will try to post a photo

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    1. Couldn't figure out how to post but here is a link-- https://www.nps.gov/articles/images/xDSC_0127E.jpg

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    2. Ha ha ha! LOVE that picture - Rhys, there's your baby owl! They are really comical little creatures. Sweet as can be. Also worthy predators.

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  34. We were once charmed by a pair of great horned owls that visited every evening, in a dead tree across the street. My neighbor and I would watch until they flew off into the gathering darkness. It was only after her elderly dog's demise, when the owl visits stopped, that we realized WHY they were there and whom they were hoping to have for dinner. Foiled their plans with our admiration and attention.

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  35. I'm so disappointed. I had typed out a long narrative here, and it's gone, vanished. So, the gist of it was that I've had two amazing owl encounters. The first was seeing a Snowy Owl when I was on a highway at night. It was snowing, and out of the darkness and the snow flakes falling swoops in a giant Snowy Owl, flying across the front of my car, close to my windshield. It was a magical moment I relive time and again. The second owl sighting was when I was walking my dog, and we came upon an injured Barred Owl hiding in a bush. It was flapping its huge wings at us, but it couldn't take off. I got help for it from our local bird sanctuary. It was rehabilitated and sent off to the wild again. I love owls.

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    1. Good for you saving that owl!! Yes Blogger fails to launch often - when I type a comment I usually highlight and copy it just in case I get a network hiccup.

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    2. Kathy, just had to reply. Yes, my up-close personal encounter with the Snowy was truly amazing, and it swooped down right over my head, so I could see the underside details and HUGE wingspan! And of course that was so kind of you to help save the poor injured owl. You're always a gal after my own heart! xo

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    3. Hallie, I do that on my phone because it seems to fail to launch quite a bit there. It usually goes through fine on my laptop. But, I will be highlighting and copying from now on.

      Lynn, that was so amazing being that close. I had a couple of Canada geese fly over my head when I was in the back yard, and I think I could have reached up and touched them. I wondered why there were just two of the geese flying together, and when I looked it up, it said that this will happen when one of the geese is injured or unwell. The other goose stays behind with the injured one until it's well enough to fly again. Then they fly off to join their flock. I didn't read how they find them.

      And as for saving that owl, I couldn't walk away and let that magnificent bird die.

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  36. Thanks for opening a door in my memory bank. Fifty years ago I was leaving a class at the University in Seattle. I saw a group of students standing around a Douglas fir. I wandered over and saw a magnificent Snowy Owl that had blown in with a recent blizzard. I can still see its golden eyes calmly watching us.

    That mask is a marvel!, what talent continues to flow in your family.

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  37. I don’t know my my message posted so many times, and I can’t figure out how to delete the extra ones!

    DebRo

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  38. So many birds in my life. My parents were hardcore Audubon Society and they rescued birds, too. We saved swans, bitterns, mallards, all types of songbirds, but the one I remember most was a sparrow hawk that lived in our house all winter because it lost its leg in a trap and my dad rescued it and rehabbed it, releasing it in the spring after he taught it to hunt with one leg. Amazing!

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  39. When I heard that the Snowy Owl who was still in town I hopped in my car and drove to DC Thursday evening. When I arrived there was a group of about 30 photographers in front of Columbus Fountain but no Snowy. I walked a loop around Union Station searching diligently for her. As I returned to the fountain an hour later, there she was, in all her glory, perched atop the globe! What a thrill of a lifetime to see this magnificent bird!

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    1. Oh you lucky duck!! Perseverance paid off... I can only imagine.

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