When You’re Not Even Looking

After a morning of capturing shots of Bald Eagles, Cedar Waxwings, Barn Swallows, Marsh Wrens and wild roses at Theler Wetlands, I was ready to call it a day. In fact, I think I’d turn off all those senses that are most alive when you’re consciously looking for wildlife. I was through for the day and heading home to my computer to see what kind of shots I’d actually gotten.

I checked out the flowers at the visitor center and started heading up the boardwalk to the car when I heard a sound I didn’t recognize, a very un-bird-like sound, almost a cat-like meow. I turned to see the Barred Owl Leslie and I had looked for several times in the last month but never found staring straight at me,

Barred Owl

softly mewing as if to get my attention.

I got several shots before it turned away, ignoring me.

Barred Owl

After a few minutes, though, both the owl and I turned at the sound of someone approaching.

Barred Owl

I turned to ask them if they wanted to see a Hoot Owl, but when I looked back it had disappeared as quietly as it had appeared. In fact, if I didn’t have photos to prove its existence I might have wondered if I’d just imagined it myself.

If it had been the only sighting of the day, it would have been a great day. Coming at the end of a long morning of great birding, it was the kind of climactic moment you live for.

6 thoughts on “When You’re Not Even Looking”

  1. Ohmygod those eyes! Ohlordie those eye sockets!!

    Stunning shots, Loren, and here’s what I’m wondering about: its head markings are all concentric circularity, round ‘n round they all go. But the rest of its markings are all vertical, those long narrow feathers punctuated by blue-ish splotches, down down down toward the tail. Like its body was put together by two artists, working from two different patterns. So what’s the evolutionary function, if any, of that extreme circularity in the head region, and what purpose is served by such contrast in markings between the two parts? Most creatures’ markings seem more unified & of a piece, it seems to me.

    1. I suspect those eyes are meant to hypnotize you. They certainly had that effect on me when I saw it.

      Just a guess, but I suspect that provide camouflage when it’s in a tree trunk, particularly when it’s just got its head looking out of a nest. See these photos: http://www.boredpanda.com/owl-camouflage/

  2. These are the most exciting sightings of all aren’t they Loren? It is not an owl we have here and it really is a magnificent bird.

  3. And how on Earth can owls turn their heads all the way around and look at you from between their shoulder blades? And fly so silently? Mysterious creatures.

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