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Old Jun 29, 2004, 10:43 PM   #1
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This was one of the birds that I really wanted a chance to photograph in a natural environment. Today I was out on my mountain bike with DSLR in saddle bags, planning to photograph song birds on fence posts. I eventually decided to park the bike and climb down into a gully where I'd seen a Heron before. Well, as soon as I got to the bottom of the gully a huge feathered beast flew out of a tree and crossed to the other side of the pond, finally perching in a tree. I got slightly excited.

It was a long way off and I took about 30 photographs that were just too blurred, since I didn't have a monopod or tripod and I was excited slightly beyond the normal. So I spotted a tree lying horizontal a few feet away, just high enough for me to crouch down and rest the lens. So Ileaned mylens over the stumpand got a few reasonable photographs of an amazing looking bird. I've seen one at the zoo but can't remember seeing one in the real wild. It was cool indeed and I would have paid money to borrow a good tripod, and an extra card. I'm going to work out a way to tie a tripod or monopod on to the back of my bike.



Another view (I just love it's furry toes) of her/him checking me out



One more (this is him/her focusing on birds that fly by)



I'm positive that this is a Snowy but I've been positive before and corrected. I want another chance at this one.

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Old Jun 29, 2004, 10:58 PM   #2
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oh man...i'm jealous....i've never seen any kind of owl at all...let alone a snowy!

beautiful bird the shots aren't too bad for no tripod!

oh yeah..if you carry a backpack....you can slip the tripod through the top loop thing (that you carry it with....when it isn't on your back) and the arm that lets you angle forward and back holds it in.....

hope this helps!

Vito
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:04 PM   #3
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I can believe its a snowy, but if it is, its immature (my bet is this year, but I don't know their nesting behaviour... that book is downstairs.) All the snowys I've seen (and none were in the wild) have been MUCH bigger than that. They aren't like Great Horned owls (which look like furry barrels) but they certainly weren't this size.

And I agree with you, those feet are wonderful. I wanted to see one of these this past winter, but it turned out to be a really bad winter for them. They some times come down the coast to Mass, but it's very food dependent. If their food supply gets scarse up in Canada, then they come further south. So I hope you don't mind if I wish for a bad rodent winter up there.

Eric
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:21 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info on the "immature" Snowy consideration, Eric. I'll see what some of the other posts say in the additional forums I post at. Eric, I'd absolutely love to see you photograph one of these with that 600mm lens of yours. I'd buy a print! So I hope for a bad rodent winter up here.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Vito, thanks for the suggestion. I don't have a back pack, the bike carries everything, so I think what I'm going to do is tie my existing manfrotto to the saddle bag support (leaving the tire pump behind, since there are priorities). If I get a flat I walk, simple as that. At least I can walk with a tripod. I'm definitely going back to that area, though.
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:37 PM   #5
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Great shots! You did the work And got the shot! Sometimes it does work out!

Trique Daddi
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:44 PM   #6
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If you want to see a good example of a adult snowy owl, google images is a great source of pictures:

http://www.photo.net/photo/pcd1641/snowy-owl-1
http://www.westyorkshirebirdsofprey....nowy%20owl.jpg
http://www.weirfield.co.uk/30.08.03/Snowy%20Owl%201.jpg


As you can see, this one is just not right... but those feet. I'm loosing my confidence a little bit (something about that head shape isn't right, and the really, really young ones are grey not white) but if it isn't, I'm not sure what type of owl it is.

Eric

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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:49 PM   #7
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Beautiful bird, and beautiful pictures. You're lucky, you just got caught without your tripod. Usually when I see something, I'm caught without my camera. :sad:
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:59 PM   #8
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Norm, this capture must have set your heart to beating a bit fast! Congratulations on being so observant and ready to take advantage of the opportunity.

However (sorry about that), I don't have 100% confidence that this bird is a Snowy Owl. Like Eric was saying, if it is then it's got to be an immature. But... even so, there are some characteristics that this bird exhibits which doesn't fit the profile of an immature snowy:

1. Notice the beginnings of a dark circle of feathers around the bird's face. All the accounts I've looked up about juvenile snowy owls are pretty emphatic about how the facial area is without the presence of dark markings.

2. The wing feather coloration and pattern is distinctly un-snowy looking.

That said, I have to admit that I am not an expert on owl identification, songbirds being my strong suit, so it is quite possible that I am wrong and it is indeed the snowy owl you thought it was.

You can help me a little bit. Can you estimate what you believed to be the size of this bird? Do you think that it was big as a perching red tailed hawk (perhaps 20-25")? Was it smaller than this? If so, by how much?

The bird looks to be perched in a poplar tree, probably an aspen. I guess I could look up the size of leaves on an aspen poplar and estimate using that...

(BTW - here is a great site for owl information).

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Old Jun 30, 2004, 12:25 AM   #9
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Here are a few more photos that help with size. This is one of those posts that explains why good photos perhaps shouldn't be the priority. I didn't post these because they were the best photographically, but because they provide the best information...the one with the blackbird is definitely the best in showing size. And the one, not cropped, shows not only size but habitat.

Everyone knows the basic size of a red winged black



Here's a longer shot of the owl as related to mature trees (1 and1/2 feet wide)in the background. Now I'm extremely curious about this one, guys, so do the best you can please, thanks




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Old Jun 30, 2004, 1:18 AM   #10
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Norm, this owl is definitely 2.5 to 3x the size of that redwing which would put it at 20" or greater in size. That means that it's in the size range of the following owls with yellow eyes:

Snowy
Great Horned
Great Gray

After seeing the new pictures you've posted my gut tells me that it is an immature of the sub-arctic form of the Great Horned Owl. However, I can only see the slightest hint of ear tufts (ie: the horns) which would indicate otherwise on my feeling except that I've read in a few places that the ear tufts may not be apparent in immature birds.

Would you mind if I posted the links in a bird forum I am registered at, to the last 2 photos you put up? I want to ask some others up there what they think. If not, you're welcome to register to the forums to ask the question yourself - it's www.birdforum.net.
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