14 April 2016

Winter of Owl Discontent

My picture of a snowy owl
I have a confession.  I "bird".  And it is no recent hobby, in fact, I have lists of birds that I saw growing up through elementary school including species we saw on vacations out west and down south.  When we bought our first home and I put up a bird feeder, I began to keep track of what we saw right in our neighborhood.  And then when we moved to the country, the species changed and the list grew.

"Birding" for short-eared owls
As an Evangelical Republican, I have an unlikely friendship with a Catholic Democrat and together we have had great times "birding" in a few far reaches of the Hoosier state.  He follows sightings of unusual species more than I do, and he has far better eyesight which typically leaves me asking "where?" a fair amount.  Despite that, he alerted me to a couple of unusual sightings of owls over the winter and asked if I wanted to travel, in one case, well more than an hour to see them.  Sure, especially since I had never seen the species before.

Not my picture of a snowy owl
First was our trip to the Kankakee Sands Prairie Restoration project on the west side of the state.  Folks had been seeing Short-Eared Owls flying low hunting on the prairie.  At first, we saw nothing and it was cold.  Once we gave up and started to drive out of the area we saw one, then two, then several more.
Not my picture of a short-eared owl
Second was our trip to see a Great Snowy Owl north of Peru.  The owl, which seemed to be way out of its range, had been spotted in a field by several people over several weeks.  We managed to find it just fine, and I got slightly better photos this time.  Owls are some of my favorite birds, probably because you see them so rarely so they have a mysterious quality that surrounds them.

My picture of a short-eared owl

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