2 Owl Species & A Porcupine :-)

I LOVE OWLS!!!  All kinds of owls … from the burrowing … to the barred … to the great horned … to the snowy … to the great gray … to the barn … and yes, to the eastern screech owl … endorphins release in my brain when I think about them.  (Side note for those of you who read my blog post on my neighborhood eastern screech owls … we heard them last night calling out to each other, so they’re still here … all is good again).

So when I had the opportunity to potentially get to photograph not just one, but two new species for me, I was quite the excited photographer!  So off we went, thanks to a great friend of mine.

It wasn’t long either until we spotted the first one … the long-eared owl.  Isn’t he just gorgeous?  I laugh because when I first saw it, I think that I had a similar facial expression … wide-eyed and intense.

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These long-eared owls are quite amazing.  So very beautiful with their rufous facial disc with that distinctive white patch under their bill.  They remind me a lot of the great horned owls, but they’re smaller, standing about 13-16″ and weighing about 8.5 oz.

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They have asymmetrical ear openings.  The left ear is higher than the right, which helps them better locate their prey by sound.

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I could have stayed there photographing them for the rest of our trip … they were that mesmerizing to me.  🙂  Interesting also to note is that the male’s hoot can sometimes be heard quite the distance … more than 1/2 mile away!  It would be like playing a game of “Marco”-“Polo” trying to find them by just sound.

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They are unlike other owls in that during the winter months, they nest in a communal fashion with others in the nearby vicinity, in the thick brush and trees.  It’s easy to see how they got their name too … like bunny rabbit ears almost.  LOL.  Can’t help but wonder about their success in nesting and what their babies look like.

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While out looking for owls, we saw many other birds, like this meadowlark … doing what meadowlarks do … singing away.  We also saw more northern harriers than I have ever seen collectively in my lifetime.  It was amazing!

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But let’s get back to the owls.  Another lifer for me were the short-eared owls.  They reminded me a lot of the northern harriers too as they cruised the same type of landscapes foraging for food.

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As with other owls, they glided gracefully and with such ease low over the landscape.  As opposed to the long-eared owls, these had very small ear tufts.  Also a medium-sized owl, their head has a pale buff facial disc, with black around the eyes, which of course, are that magnificent yellow.

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Aerial displays during courtship must be fascinating to observe, though it was too early for that when we were there.  These owls nest on the ground on a mound or slight raise of the land, laying about 3-11 eggs.

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While usually spotted flying erratically around, once in awhile they do land and seemingly pose for the camera.  Thankfully.  🙂

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As if those owl sightings weren’t enough for me, we were also treated to the cutest porcupine hanging out, feeding, on a nearby tree.

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I’m always fascinated by them and this guy was quite far up the tree, so I felt safe.  LOL.  Of course, porcupine don’t “throw” their quills like many are lead to believe, but to me, their sheer presence wants to make me respect their “comfort zone”.

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Now this guy, though adorable with those big orange teeth, was only semi-cooperating with us.  Sure the light was perfect, but that dang branch always seeming to cover up his face and eyes partially.

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So we asked for some divine intervention.  Actually Jen asked the porcupine to kindly remove that pesky branch for us, so that we might get a better shot.  I had no idea that I was with, apparently, the “Porcupine Whisperer”.  Within literally a few seconds, would you believe that the porcupine did just that?  No joke!

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Now that’s a face that everyone can both see, enjoy, and love!  What an ending to our day exploring … Owls and Porcupines … yeah,this was an awesome day!

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Not sure how it can get better for me, but rest assured it does!

Next stop:  Grand Teton National Park!  Stay tuned.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

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4 thoughts on “2 Owl Species & A Porcupine :-)

  1. Great images Debbie! I would love to see both species of owl and the porcupine would have been a great treat as well. Love the shots you got of him.

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