Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Long-eared's resolution

was apparently to be less bashful.

Long-eared owls can be found at times in late fall and winter with considerable searching and difficulty in the Sarett pine stand. However, a couple have been present in some of their cedar copses recently (breaking Tim's 6 year streak of not finding owls in them). We were amazed to find one 10 feet from the boardwalk essentially in the wide open this morning. I've never seen a wintering bird this exposed. It seemed to consider us to be weird deer or something as it opened its eyes halfway, but remained relaxed with its head settled low in its scapulars.
The red flecking in the right ear tuft and left breast is an artifact of either dust or snow on the scope and wasn't present in life.

Here's the bird taken without the scope, just the 4x zoom on the camera.

As a comparison, here's the 2nd most exposed I've ever seen a long-eared. This one for whatever reason had a lot more dark streaking to the underparts than others I've seen.

Tim's guess was that the bird will probably end up roosting in the pines where they have far more cover (and are infinitely more difficult to find).

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