Readers’ animal photos: Moar owls (short-eared ones)

Reader Tom C. sent along some of his owl photos which arrived too late for our recent OwlFest. But they’re lovely pictures, so I’ll post herewith his snaps of Aseo flammeus and his captions (click to enlarge).

Short-eared Owl at sunset: stretchin’, to get ready for some killin’… and eatin’. (Cape Vincent, NY)

(Oh, and I love this sentence about them from Wikipedia: “In Scotland this species of owl is often referred to as a cataface, grass owl or short-horned hootlet.” Short-horned hootlet!)

Also Short-eared Owl(s) from Cape Vincent NY. These images, plus the stretching bird, are all from the same late February afternoon.

This species is a communal rooster as you can see on the right!

Below, this bird is a bit agitated (short “ears,” but erected):

(JAC: Wikipedia says:

Owls belonging to genus Asio are known as the eared owls, as they have tufts of feathers resembling mammalian ears. These “ear” tufts may or may not be visible. Asio flammeus will display its tufts when in a defensive pose. However, its very short tufts are usually not visible.

and this, instantiated by the bird below:

The yellow-orange eyes of A. flammeus are exaggerated by black rings encircling each eye, giving the appearance of them wearing Mascara, and large, whitish disks of plumage surrounding the eyes like a mask.)

According to The Owl Pages, their courtship displays are stupendous:

Courtship and territorial behaviour is spectacular for an Owl. Males perform aerial displays by rising quickly with rhythmic and exaggerated wing beats, hovering, gliding down, and rising again, often 200 to 400 meters (650 to 1,300 feet) above ground. Wing claps, in bursts of 2 to 6 per second, are often made during this flight and some singing occurs. The flight can be ended with a spectacular descent where the male hold his wings aloft and shimmies rapidly to the ground. Two birds may engage in flight, locking talons, and fighting briefly.

These owls occur in both the New and Old Worlds; here’s their range map:

And a  nice video:

16 Comments

  1. Posted May 2, 2012 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    Great photos :-).
    I’ve never seen an owl in the wild so I am rather jealous!

  2. Pete Moulton
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    Sad to say, a very scarce bird here in Arizona; but I recall them well from my eastern Colorado days. Great shots, Tom, and thanks for the memories!

  3. Posted May 2, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    gorgeous photos. I never see owls in my area, but sometimes I hear them. I love owls.

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Those eight in the tree are more owls than I’ve seen in the wild in my entire life. Sigh.

  5. Mary - Canada
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Spectacular photos. Thanks for sharing

  6. Notagod
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Why would some of them damned christian gods put that one poor owl’s head on backwards?

    The other proof that christian gods are dead can be derived from the comments above; what kind of a damned christian god wouldn’t ensure that everyone would be able to see owls in the wild? Its a damned god shame is what it is.

  7. Notagod
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    The owl with the strreetchin’ leg and wing should get an award in a photo contest.

  8. daveau
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    He he. Owl stretching time.

    Nice photos.

    • Roz
      Posted May 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Owl yoga!

  9. Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    *preens feathers*

    Yup, that’s one good-lookin’ owl there!

    (It’s Asio – AsIo – damnit!)

    • SnowyOwl
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

      As ‘theshortearedowl’ you would know about preening, that is, using your beak to touch up your feathers with oil from the uropygial gland. In the same process, you’d run your slightly open beak along your primaries and secondaries to re-lock the barbules to make each feather a working unit.
      This owl is actually stretching.
      As ‘SnowyOwl’, I once caught and ate a short-eared owl before he’d done his stretching… tasted like chicken.

  10. Marella
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    What’s with the owl stashing the rodent it killed? Is that usual with owls? I wasn’t aware that it was.

    Great photos, especially the ‘owl yoga’ pose.

    • Roz
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 2:59 am | Permalink

      I don’t know but my 4 yr old son had fun watching that and figuring out what the owl had caught..then we watched a bunch of owl clips including this one (for kitteh-lovers too) which he laughed at non-stop

      • Marella
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:31 am | Permalink

        Love that video.

    • SnowyOwl
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      Caching food is common in herbivores, we know… blue jays, squirrels store nuts. Carnivores will also do this. Given the opportunity they will return to a meal or move leftovers to a hiding place.
      An owl or hawk might make multiple kills, and store an extra mouse or two for later.
      ===
      As for the “owl yoga” shot: that owl had just emerged in late afternoon from a low thicket along with all the rest you see in the tree. But this bird was nearly backlit, so I added an extra f-stop for more light, so it wouldn’t be just a dark silhouette! I used a tripod too.

      “Tom C.”

      • Marella
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:33 am | Permalink

        Thx for that. 🙂


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