Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Michigan Owl for Mom

My mom raised me to be a night owl. She and I would often visit late at night as she would be doing laundry or when I returned home from a night out as a teenager. We were in the midst of continuing that tradition this past Thursday while I was visiting her home in Battle Creek, Michigan. We were talking about my interest in wildlife photography when she told me she wanted to see a "Michigan" owl in my online photos. Well, the night was still young at 11:30 so with her encouragement I drove a few blocks to a small cemetery which I had noticed earlier in the day and thought would be good habitat for a Screech-Owl. I was a little sheepish about playing a Screech-Owl call from my phone when I arrived at the cemetery and I realized how close I was to some neighboring homes. I didn't want to draw attention by shining my light into the trees if an owl did call back to me. I had a small window of opportunity so I pressed forward with my attempt to call in an owl. Within a few minutes I heard the distant call of a Screech-Owl. A couple minutes later I saw the silhouette of the owl move across the sky above my head. The owl perched deep inside a tree that was on the other side of the fence that separated the cemetery from private property. The owl called back to me. I moved along the fence line until I found a vantage point that allowed me to put a light on the owl and capture some images.

It's not a bad image, but the owl itself looks a bit worn. I noticed a bare spot revealing skin between the owl's left eye and the bill. The whiskers are missing on that side of the bill.

The only reason I'm sharing the image below is to show the shape of the bill. These owls are between 8 and 9 inches tall and seem harmless in many ways, but when it comes time to eat, and they do eat meat, instinct kicks in and that bill does serious damage to small birds and rodents.

I had a smile on my face when I walked back into mom's home late Thursday night...well, early Friday morning. It was a memorable moment to photograph an Eastern Screech-Owl for the first time with the encouragement of my sweet mother. Thanks for supporting my interest, mom. I hope you enjoy seeing your "Michigan" owl.

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