After our trade show escapades, it was time to enjoy the great company of Randy and Elaine, Rick's brother and sister-in-law. We did some fun things -- a great lunch and dinner out, a ride through the area and lots of talk-time. But perhaps the most amazing moments were spent watching their owl.
Well, I suppose it isn't "their" owl. But this one seems to rather enjoy the tree just off their back deck where he has a great view of the bird feeder and, down below, any poor critter happening to be moving from one spot to another without looking up.
What struck me most is that it was such a peaceable kingdom. Of course, the owl had survival on his mind, yet he seemed to not be interested in the birds that were plentiful at the feeder or the squirrels who danced around him -- and got right in his face!
This is the original photo of the owl and squirrel that I showed cropped at the top of this post. I was shooting from about 20 feet away through glass. I was most grateful that Randy and Elaine's glass is a lot cleaner than mine! (I also said "thank you" to my little Canon Powershot SX 170 with a great zoom!)
I can see why the birds cluster around the feeders. Randy and Elaine keep them well filled. Over the course of our time there, I saw about eight different types of birds -- not counting our owl friend. Lizzie would have been in heaven, chattering away at them!
But of course the majestic owl was the one to capture my imagination (and the better part of my memory card.) He is a Barred Owl.
Barred Owls are common in the northeastern United States but have been spreading westward. They are noted for their brown eyes, rather than the more common yellow or golden eyes (and that fact makes photographing their eyes pretty tough!) They tend to go for rodents -- mice, voles, and shrews -- but also will take on a squirrel, birds, and a variety of other critters. As I mentioned above, this owl has never been seen going after the birds that are just a few feet away, and as you can see, he didn't seem to have squirrel on the mind, either!
I'd lie in wait for a turn of the head, a shift to a new branch or different position much in the way he was waiting, staring at the ground, on the hunt.
Some of the photos were almost painterly.
Some adapted well to black and white or a tint.
But my favorites were clearly the originals. Handsome, strong, regal as he sat in his nook on the tree or on a nearby branch, the cold wind ruffling his feathers, the snow forming a cap on his head.
It is a sight I shall never forget.
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