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ShawnZ

Birds in Winter, life and death.

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In the midst of my enthusiasm to photograph birds in Northeastern Minnesota, I am frequently reminded of the life and death struggle that these creatures go through on a daily basis. This hawk owl routinely hunted close to a four lane highway this winter and was quite succesfull using traffic to it's advantage; as cars passed by the occassional vole would flush and a meal was had. On the other hand, this great gray owl, discovered on Christmas Day in the Sax/Zim Bog, was a sad reminder that owls near roadsides sometimes meet unfortunate ends. I don't know for sure how the owl passed away, but finding it on the road seemed telling. This white winged crossbill wets it's whistle by eating snow, for during January there is little water to be had in most places across the northland. And lastly, this common redpoll passed away in my yard for reasons unknown, no where near a window, no obvious external injuries, I like to think it lived a full life and finally made it's final migration, but who knows. All photographs taken in St. Louis Cty, during the Winter season 08-09. Comments and critiques always welcome.

Regards, Shawn Zierman.

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It is very true but sad story. We have a strange acting Redpoll that has been hanging around the feeder that we can walk right up to and almost touch. I only hope that the Shrike that has been hanging around get's the Redpoll and not our pair of Cardinals. Thanks for sharing your story Shawn.

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Very Nice Shawn!(Love that NHO!)....another perspective of the north country that isn't shared everyday but very much a part of our lives......Even as that great gray and redpoll are lying there ...one can't help but see the beauty of those creature in their eternal sleep...such dignified creatures!...you captured them so honorably!.....to some they're mere "roadkills".....to others ...life was lost.....

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...one can't help but see the beauty of those creature in their eternal sleep...such dignified creatures!...you captured them so honorably!.....to some they're mere "roadkills".....to others ...life was lost.....

Well said. I had such a hard time looking at the great gray photo particularly, though it is so well done. Talk about emotional impact. It is like seeing a deer downed along the highway and getting that flash recognition of your pet's little face. There must be something about a universal holiness in all creatures. Your thought of "beauty in their eternal sleep' was very helpful. I will just give Maggie an extra kiss on the nose, and say--thank you, Shawn, and thank you jonny redhorse (also known for photos with emotional impact).

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Thankyou all so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. About the ggo....It was Christmas Day and we were headed to a family Christmas party in the great town of Hibbing. When headed that way, I will frequently pass through the bog as it is never time wasted. After turning onto Hwy 7, I glimpsed something on the road out of the corner of my eye. I'm quite sure I knew what it was the instant I saw it but was compelled to go back and look anyway. I was suprised by my own disappointment when I confirmed my suspicion. I have seen dead birds before. I remember last year finding a dead fox sparrow in my front yard, man they are beautiful up close! But the owl was different, so regal an animal, so few to be found, the loss seemed more profound. I had never taken a picture of a dead bird before but something about that moment struck a different chord. It had been two years since I had seen a great gray owl prior to finding this one. Even dead, it WAS special to me and I did my best to make a tasteful portrait worthy of such a creature. The picture has continued to have an impact on me. Death is as much a part of life as living is. In the future, as with the common redpoll, if it feels appropriate, I will continue to make such images if only to mark and remember what was lost.

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Great series Shawn. Life and death happen and we must face it no matter what. The deceased owl looks pieceful in his eternal rest. Very well done and very respectfully...

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