- Yellowstone In Winter
- Animals/Birds of the Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks 2016
- National Parks Landscapes 2016
- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2014
- Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands Landscapes 2014
- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2012
- Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands Landscapes 2012
- Animals of Yellowstone 2011
- Yellowstone/Tetons Landscapes 2011
- Yellowstone Textures
- Custer State Park, SD
- Great Smoky Mountains NP
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Utah National Parks
- About Me
Three of my photos were accepted to the 41st Annual Cerro Gordo Photo Show this year. Always an honor. Photos in the Photo Show can be seen at the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum until July 10, 2021. Click images to see full image.
A Great Horned Owlet about ready to fledge the nest (taken today) and its younger sibling (taken last week). It was really dark back in the limestone cave, even on a bright day. I've enjoyed photographing young owls in this same nest for several years, but I almost never see an adult where I can get a photo.
Click images to see larger.
On my second trip to Northern Minnesota this winter I was able to photograph three Great Gray Owls, the largest owl by height in North America. There was many miles of back-roads driving northwest of Two Harbors, but I also saw one along the highway with about a dozen other photographers lined up along the shoulder of the road. The shape of the face acts like a parabolic reflector and amplifies the sound of distant critters. Their ears are offset with the sound reaching one ear a millisecond sooner than the other ear to help them identify the specific location of the sound. A Great Gray Owl sitting up in a tree can dive with pinpoint accuracy to grab an unseen vole or mouse under the snow.
[Click each image to see larger]
I went searching for a Snowy Owl today and found two, south of Nerstrand, MN. I came across the first as it was starting to fly. I quickly stopped the car, rolled down the window and started firing off shots with the camera pointed out the window before I even started to focus or lock on to the bird in flight. I'm just including the out of focus photo here to show the overall speckled coloring of the (female) bird. The second all white (adult male) bird was a few miles away, out in the middle of the field, squinting in to the bright sun and blowing snow. Neither are great photos, but is the closest I've been to Snowy Owls this winter. Still looking (and I appreciate tips). [Click images to see larger]
December 31, New Year's Eve day, the last day of 2020. After half a day of Eagle and geese photography I headed over to the Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area near Oxford, IA to take photos of Short-eared Owls. While not a guarantee, they have recently been flying over the grasslands in the couple of hours before sunset searching for mice. I was fortunate to see seven or eight and got photos of two, one flying and one perched on a small tree branch right at eye level near the road. I was able to take photos of the second one quietly from the car in the dim light just before sunset. It was a great way to end the last few daylight hours of the year.
[Click images to see larger]
Click images to see larger.
I'm often asked why I take so many pictures of the same subject. The simple answer is the next frame or the next photo outing may be better than the last. The photo on the left is a gray-morph Eastern Screech-Owl in a Wood Duck nest box. I thought it might be the only guest at the Cupola Inn Bed and Breakfast this spring. However, I went back the next day and got photos of a second gray-morph Eastern Screech-Owl in a different nest box from the first one that I photographed the previous day. Better lighting the second time and I was able to get a better view before it ducked back inside. The slight difference in color of these two images may be due to the lighting, time of day and auto-white balance on the camera. (Click images to see larger.)
Update 5/17/2020: I just saw that one of my Screech Owl photos is being used as the banner image on the Owl About Iowa Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/owlaboutiowa/ .
It turned in to an all-day jaunt of bushwhacking and paddling, but I finally got some photos of one of the two Great Horned owlets that fledged the nest two days ago. Fortunately this one sat in the same tree all day (still a bit unsure of his wings), apparently waiting for me to get a somewhat clear view. Thanks to Dale for a great day of paddling.
(Click the images to see larger)
A Northern Saw-whet Owl at the Lime Creek Conservation Area in North Iowa. I really enjoy photographing owls (as you may have noticed). These little guys are pretty hard to find. Only about 8" tall and they sit very still most of the day, only hunting at night. (Click images to see larger)
The Lime Creek Nature Center held a 'Spring Break at Lime Creek' program yesterday presented by Linette from S.O.A.R. (Saving Our Avian Resources). It was a chance to see some raptors up close and to learn more about the birds.
(Click images below to see larger)
Returning from our trip to Yellowstone National Park (see previous posts) we had an opportunity to spend a couple of extra days in Rapid City, SD when I-90 was closed due to a snowstorm. We found a Birds and Blooms event at a local greenhouse and went to get a breath of spring in the greenhouses and to see the raptors from the Black Hills Raptor Center. These are education birds that have been injured or imprinted on humans and can't be returned to the wild. It is always cool to see raptors up close and to to take photos in a somewhat controlled environment (well, there were dozens of people trying to see the birds also). The birds below include Short-eared Owl, American Kestrel, Eastern Screech Owl (red phase), Red-tailed Hawk and a Ferruginous Hawk.
[Click imaged below to see larger]
I was pleased to see that my photo of a Burrowing Owl in a Humbolt county, IA, corn field last year was used on the cover of the 'Iowa Bird Life', the journal of the Iowa Ornithologists' Union (Summer 2018 issue). https://iowabirds.org . It appears that his head is on backwards as he is looking 180 degrees to the rear. The photo was taken from the car with a 600mm lens.
It is very unusual to see a Burrow Owl in Iowa. This lone owl dug a hole early in the spring before the corn field was planted and sat there fro a couple of weeks calling for a non-existent mate. The owl eventually disappeared, I hope moving on to a better environment.
In this same issue of Iowa Bird Life a couple of other photos I submitted were also used.
I spent a morning with a couple of puffed up Great Horned Owlets, in north Iowa, stretching their legs and wings and probably getting close to fledging the nest. We had a bit of a staring contest from about 30 yards away. I watched for about 3 1/2 hours and did not see any adult owls, but I'm sure that they saw me and were keeping their distance.
[Click images to see larger, and play the video below.]
Watch the video:
I had an opportunity to photograph the resident education birds at the Iowa Raptor Project near Solon, IA and Lake MacBride State Park. Each bird has a unique story of how it was injured and can't be returned to the wild. They are now education birds open to the public to view the birds and learn about raptors. This is a joint project of Kirkwood Community College and The University of Iowa Recreational Services. [Click the images to see larger and read the descriptions.]