Earlier this Spring we heard of a Great Horned Owl’s nest at one of the local parks. The word was that the parents and the two juveniles typically sat during the day, making good subjects for the public, birders and photographers alike. My wife and I headed over there one afternoon. Sure enough, there were people watching and photographing the birds–the latter sitting inside a hollow near the crotch of a large tree. Unfortunately, the Owls were somewhat back-lit at that time of day and their view was obstructed. We decided it would be better if we returned early the following morning when we would have the sun at our rear.
We showed up around 8:00 AM the next morning–and found some photographers already in place. We were lucky. The birds were sitting out in the open. Mom was in the distance keeping an eye on her older juvenile (the younger was still in the nest), while the juvenile was sitting closer to the path where we humans were congregating. I mover further down the path which provided me with a good angle for capturing both birds, as shown in the photograph on the left. Mom is in its bottom portion.
Dad was more difficult to find. However, one birder located him by following the agitated crows. He was sitting about 200 feet away, close to the tree trunk, facing away from his family. He did look around occasionally, as well as calling out to announce his presence every so often. Unfortunately, he was too obstructed to present a good photo opportunity. His role was one of diversion, as well as providing back-up protection, should it be necessary.
Shortly after taking this shot mom flew over to join the juvenile. This offered several good photo-ops, three of which are shown, below.
The juvenile was glad to see mom, but being “out on a limb” can be tiring.
I used my Canon 100mm-400mm lens with a 1.4X III extender @560mm with image stabilization turned off. My Canon EOS 7D and lens were mounted on my Manfrotto (055X) tripod. I set the camera to mirror lock-up and used a cable release to minimize vibration.
We recently took a “quick” walk through Oatka Park. As it was late morning things had begun to chill-out in the avian community. However, one fellow, an Eastern Phoebe, suddenly landed in a tree not far from us where it sat for a long time with a large insect in its beak. I took several photos, hoping for it to provide several poses. Alas, it held its position, except for turning its head. The best photo is shown, below.
Since this type of behavior seemed unusual and that this was the nesting season, we surmised that the bird was distracting us from its nest where it intended to go to feed its young once we left. We therefore “took the photos and ran.”
I visited the Pileated Woodpecker tree again this past Sunday. Although there were no birds spotted, there is now a third hole located at the 2 o’clock position relative to the hole on the right side of the tree shown in the photograph in my March 2 post. As we come into April I’m going to have to spend some time camped near the tree with my camera mounted on a tripod to record any comings and goings once the birds begin nesting (if indeed that’s why the holes are being drilled).
It was yet another low overcast day with a light snow falling. I went to see if there was any Pileated activity around the holes being drilled last week. We listened before approaching. No drilling, no calling. We walked into the woods towards the tree. The photo, above, shows a close-up of the two holes. The second hole is located at the 1:00 position to the facing hole. I also panned the area to show the setting of this tree. You can see this video at: http://sli.so/11463722QI . There is lots of deadwood in the area and most of the ground area is flooded (swampy)–just what woodpeckers love.
I’ll swing by next week to see if there is any activity.
Just a brief post to say that we found two Pileated Woodpeckers drilling on a tree not too far from the edge of a field. One flew off shortly after we stopped to watch them. The other continued working on another hole–to what is likely to be their nest. Pileateds often have two or more exits to their nests. I moved to a second location for a shot of the hole that the bird in the first photo had been working on. These are new holes going deep into the tree so it is clear they are not just feeding. Pileateds nest only one season in the same nest. After that, other residents move in.
I’ll have regular reports as I visit this location on a weekly basis, perhaps even some video of the future fledglings. Stay tuned!