I’ll spare you some really bad puns I had for the title of this post.
Sunday afternoon, three of us Elles went on a DuPage Birding Club field trip led by intrepid Jeff Smith. The purpose of the trip was to see owls that Jeff had located previously. Owl etiquette also dictates that owl locations not be widely publicized.
Our first stop was at Isle a La Cache in Will County, a new spot for me. I can only imagine what it looks like in warmer weather; it was beautiful and a bit mysterious under snow and ice. There were times we were walking on the ice, retreating when we heard creaking beneath our feet.
We might have found the Great Horned Owl eventually on our own, but five or six crows noisily called our attention to it, and they kept at it for a long time – I estimate five to eight minutes. And here I had been musing about crows finding owls the previous weekend; it’s as if I got my wish. Crows are expert owl spotters, and they also make real nuisances of themselves. Every time this owl perched, the crows harassed it until it moved again. Eventually, it flew close enough into an open space where I got the photograph below, much to my surprise.
Some other birds of the day, a Black-Capped Chickadee…
One of a few Red-Bellied Woodpeckers…
One of two Bald Eagles…
One of many American Tree Sparrows…
but no more owls. We moved on to a location where we might have at least heard a Barred Owl, but no luck there.
We wound up at Goose Lake Prairie, if a bit early, expecting to see a Short-Eared Owl hunting at dusk. Before dusk we had several Northern Harriers hunting over the grassland.
Much of the field trip had been akin to a forced march, and now we stood shivering in the cold on a platform that overlooks the preserve. Our patience did finally pay off. We saw a Short-Eared Owl floating mothlike over the grass just as it began to hunt. It was way too dark by then to take pictures, the light disappearing quickly.
Loved this post about the owls. I had a similar experience, except it was mockingbirds that were doing the harrassing. They literally rammed into the owl trying to knock it off it’s perch. Loved your photos, Lisa.
Thanks, Bob. I love your comments. The Mockingbirds remind me of Red-Winged Blackbirds; perhaps the smaller they are the braver they think they have to be!
Wow, that superb owl image is really amazing, congrats!
Thanks, Leslie! I give total credit to the crows. Although now I’m feeling sorry for the owl, not only did it have to deal with the crows but there were 15 of us flightless birds standing there trying to get a look at it too… But I am really glad I got the photo!
Delightful photos..will be so glad when all of our birds return to Colorado..Thank you sharing..
Thanks for your comment, Syl. I hope someday to see your Colorado birds. The birds are looking forward to spring too, some of the wintering passerines have started singing here.