Posts Tagged ‘winter birds’

Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) in tree with cached Meadow Vole, Ontario, Canada

On the morning of December 19th fellow photographer and friend Don Johnston and myself made an early morning trip to a location, near my home, with an over-wintering Northern hawk Owl. It was a bitterly cold morning with temperatures hovering around -21 degrees Celsius. Upon our arrival the owl was sitting high in a tree with no possibility for any successful imagery. We set-up near a small tree along one of the roads to keep an eye on the owl’s movements and chatted while drinking our coffees to stay warm. Soon the forecasted snow flurries began with large fluffy flakes falling. After waiting for over an hour the owl decided to leave its perch high in the tree and descend to a lower perch, which just so happened to be in the tree we were standing in close proximity too. This tree, unknown to us held a previously cached Meadow Vole. Northern Hawk Owls are known for hunting and caching their kills in the crooks of branches, behind tree bark, and even burying them in the snow. They can reserve precious energy this way by returning to cached prey to feed, rather than to go on the hunt again. The owl remained in the tree for about 10 minutes allowing us a wonderful opportunity to capture numerous horizontal and vertical poses amid the beautiful falling snow. Indeed it felt like an early Christmas present 🙂

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Blue Jay at rest on fresh fallen snow

When I set-up my songbird feeding station for winter songbird photography I also constructed an extension that a large section of a tree trunk is fastened to for photographing woodpeckers when they come in to feed on the suet I fastened to the back of the trunk, and out of view of the camera. I used a four foot length of 2 X 4 to construct this extension. This 2 X 4 has become a very important part of my set-up, because after a fresh snowfall it allows me to capture ‘ground-level’ images of the birds that choose to sit on the snow covered 2 X 4 while waiting their turn at the feeder. The resulting images look as though I was laying down in the snow when I was actually toasty warm, while sitting in my heated blind with a fresh brewed cup of coffee. Here are two of my favorite Blue Jay images from this year so far. They were photographed on a bitter cold morning at -20 Celsius. The Blue Jay is all fluffed up while trying to stay warm on this bitter day.

Blue Jay in winter

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