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Old Jun 30, 2004, 9:05 AM   #11
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Awesome! Great shots of a member of the Big Game of birds.

You must have been very excited to get such an opportunity to get these shots of this wild bird. I am excited for you just looking at them.

Thanks for sharing them with us.
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 11:44 AM   #12
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birdforum is a great resource. if you are looking for bird ids, itsthe place to start (no, this place is... then go there. That way we still see the pictures!) I only stopped going there because of lack of time. There are some really good people there (both as people and birders.)

geoffs is right, that facial disc & wing pattern is almost completely wrong for a snowy. I have some experience with owls (having been to several owl demonstrations) but I'm certainly no expert (Marcia Wilson of the "Eyes On Owls" program is one of the best I know, but she doesn't have a web site.... I just did some searching. And sorry, I'm not giving out her phone number .) There are some darker morphs of snowy (from the google images search) but they are more specled or specked (geoffs' site on owls has some very nice shots.) And that facial disk pattern is really wrong... at least no adult I've seen has that dark circling pattern around the face (that second top photo shows it well.)

If that is a great grey, you found a treat which is (I think) even rarer than a snowy. I've only ever seen one (in captivity) and they are beautiful, MASSIVE birds. Truly stunning to see. They do have a large facial disc and (at least in adults) it's really dark. Maybe this owl would grow into that?

Humm... I've been looking at thsi some more and thinking. From those two new photos, I'd have to vote for immature Great Horned. I've seen Great Horned many times, and even once in the wild (you can see the gallery here:


Actually, I'm a lot more confident now that I compare this to my gallery. Great Grey's have a smaller forehead (the disk goes around more) and the Great Horned has more of a V like structure that splits the disk and goes down to the beak. This one has that V that splits the disk (snowy's do to, though.). Also, the black marks that follow the shape of the disk are also in the adult Great Horned, but not on the snowy.

But there is still the question of the "horns". Where are they?

So my slightly educated guess is for an immature Great Horned. Having spend an amazing hour sitting about 5 feet from a Great Horned Owl exchanging hoots (snuck into an area at night where they are stored in large cages.) I think Great Horned Owls are some of the more amazing birds out there.


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Old Jul 1, 2004, 1:06 AM   #13
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Thanks for your efforts guys. Geoff, absolutely, post away anywhere you wish. Now I really have a desire to know what this one is...actually, two. I went back today but wasn't as lucky because I didn't just stumble on them, they knew I was there and kept moving. That's where the two come into the picture. Both owls were the same size and coloration appeared to be similar. Unfortunately, I didn't get aphoto of both of them at the same time. Does this piece of information have any bearing on maturity and/or immaturity?

My problem with the "horned" suggestion is exactly what Eric says...where are the horns? However, I'm not even a beginner at owls so I leave it up to you and whoever else can be found who might shed some light on the matter. Here's a sampling of what I got today...reallypoor technically but perhaps they will have something that can helpident.

This shot doesn't show much more than the others

This one was sorely underexposed and I had to do some processing but got a bit of feather coloration anddefinitionfor you to use as ident. These wings certainly don't appear to look like any Snowy photo I've seen. Hopefully someone will know for sure.

Update: here's a comment from an expert from Ontario, Canada: This is a Juvenal Great-horned Owl... Snowys nest and raise their young in the Arctic,and come south during the winter months. You can just see a hint of the Ear Tuffs forming,Snowys lack Ear Tuffs.

As usual, you guys are correct. Thanks for your help!

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Old Jul 1, 2004, 1:31 AM   #14
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Norm, your hard work at actually going into the field and doing the legwork to get these photographs is much more rewarding than my sitting back and trying to id your work. I've been doing some stuff fairly local to me but I really have to find time to start getting out further afield as you are. Yes, it's nice to know that my id, and Eric's, has turned out to be correct, but you actually got the thrill of seeing these up close and personal. You are "da man"! :-)

The fact that you saw two of them in close proximity is just an indication that they were probably from the same nest and haven't yet matured to the point of ranging out on their lonesomes yet. Typically, these types of birds of prey do not congregate as they require a certain territory size to satisfy individual requirements for food supply.

(Actually, I've been practicing my aquarium fish photography skills lately and I've posted some photos in the Nature Shooting Techniques section. It's less legwork than bird photography but I'm finding it technically difficult)

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