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schr0563

Owl Hunting???

9 posts in this topic

I am curious if anybody has suggestions on how to locate owls during daylight hours. I got lucky the other day when a Great Horned Owl landed in a tree in my backyard. After running to get my camera I only got 4 handheld shots of it before he decided he was done with the photoshoot.

So if I wanted to seek them out in order to get more photos are there techniques I should use to be more successful? Or is it simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time?

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For the most part its about being in the right place and the right time. Knowing what habitat the owl you prefer to find helps also. The best time to find them is dusk and dawn where you might still catch them when the light is good. This time of year you could locate one by listening for their calls as well. Once you find an owl try to observe it and pick up on its habits. The more time you spend observing and looking for them the more likely you will be able to find one. I'm off in a few minutes to take some pictures of great grays that I have been watching since December.

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Yeah, it also helps to live near the "owl zone". wink

You could always try a predator call. I tried this on hawks last fall, and it definitely pulls them in. I bought a cheapy electronic one and would place it in a pile of dead trees. I'd then hide out in some brush, not too far away, and start calling. I haven't had any luck with owls yet, but I think it's just a matter of time. However, I knew there were always a lot of hawks hanging around this area.

Good luck.

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Schr, plenty of owls to be found in central and southern Minnesota, and quite a few are urban-adapted. In the woodlots, look for great horned, barred, long-eared and screech owls, and out on the prairie look for short-eared owls. Heavily timbered creeks/rivers in many parts of prairie country also are home to great horned, long-eared and screech owls.

In winter, there usually is a snowy owl or two hanging around at the Mpls/Stp airport.

Out in North Dakota when I was a teen and young adult and a very dedicated birder (VERY long time ago now), in the area around Grand Forks and the prairies to the east and west I saw all the aforementioned owl species. Out in central N.D., I once stumbled upon a long-eared in a shelter belt.

All the owl species I mentioned except for the snowy are essentially nocturnal and like to keep a low profile during the day. Photographing nocturnal owls in daytime calls for a bit of sensitivity, as other, smaller birds will mob owls if they find them. Chickadees and other little passerine species will bedevil screech owls, which tend to lay low in tree cavities during the day, and crows will harry great horned owls when they can find them.

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All the owl species I mentioned except for the snowy are essentially nocturnal and like to keep a low profile during the day. Photographing nocturnal owls in daytime calls for a bit of sensitivity, as other, smaller birds will mob owls if they find them. Chickadees and other little passerine species will bedevil screech owls, which tend to lay low in tree cavities during the day, and crows will harry great horned owls when they can find them.

With that being said, if you run across a bunch of birds making a ruckus, investigate. This is how I found a screech owl last winter. By watching out for flocks of crows, is how I found a bald eagle this winter and they've steered me towards quite a few hawks. Just keep yout eyes peeled for any unusual bird activity. Little birds just don't like larger birds.

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This is some interesting insight. The great horned owl I happened to see in my back yard was definitely being pursued by crows. Watching for that ruckus may pay off in the future.

As the weather warms I'll have to sneak out early in the morning and quietly walk some of the secluded wooded areas in some of the parks near my house. There are definitely owls around as I hear several of them calling each night when I go outside with my dog. I'll post images if I get lucky enough to locate some birds.

Thanks for all the advice everyone.

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Schr, you can also get a CD of bird songs and play a screech owl call at night to pinpoint where the owls might be. Woodlots, and sometimes old residential neighborhoods with mature deciduous trees, are the places to do this.

Then you can walk quietly and slowly the next day near where you heard an owl answer and examine tree cavities and branches near the trunks of the trees to see if any screech owls are roosting. The gray phase owls in particular are very difficult to spot against the tree bark. It's their preferred camo, after all.

Crows make a sort of longer drawn-out caw when they're on an owl. Once you've seen it happen and listened to the cawing, you'll recognize it next time you hear it. And if you hear a group of chickadees going crazy with their chick-a-dee calls, check that out too. Could be they've got a screech or saw-whet owl cornered. Chickadees in particular seem adept at glomming onto small roosting owls, and the supposition is that they can see the owls' eyes easily, and the further supposition is that's why owls tend to roost in daytime with their eyes closed and why they're reluctant to open their eyes for long when disturbed.

Good luck!

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