Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aeglius acadicus)
Photgraphed @ Anchorage, AK 1/27/2012. (USA date system for Resin)
A big Thank You to Kathy Prentki for posting on AKBird there was a Northern Saw-whet Owl perched out side her kitchen window. Her gracious offer to: “… share our kitchen window if you need an owl” was irresistible
The beauty comes at a price. Keep in mind the temperature is near 0 F. (-17C) and there have been a lot more dark stormy days, than cold clear sunny days. Plus a record snow fall in excess of 90 inches. I tried to wall off the road one day last week to get closer to an owl, but sunk below my crotch. I couldn't walk, the snow was just too soft & deep.
Yesterday we drove out behind the airport twice looking for the Great Gray Owl. We only found it the first time around 1 pm. Ice fog clouds kept drifting through the area making it too dark for good photos. The fog is visible in this shot.
This picture was taken between clouds and is a little cleared. The Owl is the dark spot near the center. It had just flown from the airport fence, and pounced into the snow after a vole. We watched it try a half dozen times, never succeed while we were watching.
Today was a beautiful clear, but cold day. The first time we looked for the Owl around noon, no luck, no bird. The second try around 3:30 pm, it was sitting in a tree across the road from the two pictures above. The tree was on the edge of the road, however, from the lighted side there were so many branches the owl was obscured. This is the best of the back lit shots. There are lots of vole tracks on top of the snow - the owls should be around for a while.
About 3 pm today we parked in the area where the Great Gray Owl as been seen recently, behind International airport. Waiting for the Great Gray to show, we were very surprised when a small little Boreal Owl landed near the truck. The Boreal Owl is a life list for me, a rare bird I never expecting I would ever see. It was very tame, and allowed me to approach close without showing any concern. Actually, more like it was laughing at me trying to avoid falling in the deep snow. I was sinking in well above my knees, and nearly fell several times. I can hardly believe the extraordinary luck I have been having seeing and photographing owls recently.
Burn, the following quote from todays AKBird group shows just how amazing the Owls are this season.
Quoting: To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: 1/29/2012 12:30:10 P.M. Alaskan Standard Time
Subj: 5 species of owls
Nils Warnach, Louann Feldman and I had five species of owls this morning.
Hawk-along Lake Hood Drive
Great Gray-in the recycling center west of the Clitheroe Center
Saw-whet and Boreal along the fence line that parallels the Eat-west
Runway. Park outside the Clitheroe Center and walk north (should read south) through the heavy
equiptment storage area and turn right (west) along the fence line. They owls
were fairly obvious sitting in cottonwoods on the right as you walk towards
the Coastal Trail.
Short-eared-flopping over the runway.
There were a dozen cars & trucks at the end of the road, in front of the Clitheroe Center. So many people have been walking along the out side of the airport fence that there is a well pack trail through the deep snow. This is looking east back along the airport fence. The people in the picture are photographing a Boreal Owl in a tree next to the path.
When I walked up the trail to where the two people were in the above picture, found this Great Gray Owl sleeping, in the sun. The Owl kept turning it's head, but never opened it's eyes far enough to show yellow. My toes were too cold to go any farther, so I started back. There was a steady stream of Owl watchers along the path through the snow.