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Great Horned Owl
Sept. 23, 2006

Great Horned Owl

Ottawa, Ontario. Canada

The rain let up in the early afternoon so I headed down to a favourite conservation area to see what birds were around. After photographing some warblers up on the ridge I ventured into the woods and it wasn't long before I heard a familiar sound. My pace quickened as the din of crows cawing grew increasingly louder. This usually meant they were harassing some bird of prey and I was not disappointed. Perched on a branch not too high up was a Great Horned Owl. Eventually the crows moved on having made their point to the Great Horned Owl.

Now I had the owl all to myself. I got its attention by imitating some low hooting sounds. What really got it perked up was me making a squeaking noise, a sound an owl no doubt associates with a small furry four-legged creature in distress. This worked each time I tried it. The owl eventually tired of me and after some grooming and wing stretching and the emptying of bowels it walked further out on the branch (picture above) and flew off.

The crows would find it again a few minutes later unfortunately. This time it was much better hidden and when in doubt look where the crows are looking. Sure enough there it was between the crook of two branches. Later that afternoon I returned to see what the owl was up to. I heard it hooting so it was communicating with another owl. I also heard some strange sounds which I did not recognize emanating from nearby.

Flash was a must as the light was very poor inside the woods especially this afternoon after the rains.

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