I would likely gain some benefit from spending countless hours sitting down in the woods, observing wildlife and photographing it with the camera. But the part of me that loves being productive and getting a good days work completed, just can’t fathom sitting for hours in hopes of getting a great bird or animal shot. So, I wind up bored, and pretty soon I’m thinking of all of the tasks I could, or should, be getting done. Consequently, almost every photograph I have taken of wildlife has been a lucky fluke, just being at the right place at the right time with my camera. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been outside working in the woods or the pasture when I wished I had the camera along.
Many photographs are a result of my constant watch from the house. Every room has a view… a window or door that offers views of the pastures and the woodlands below. That is usually how I happen to notice a critter in the area. And some animals have a daily routine, along the same paths at the same times each day. I see Ms. Foxy almost every day at mid morning making her way to the east, towards town. I always wonder if she is eating dog or cat food at a neighboring residence.
One evening earlier this week, FD happened to glance out the back door, hoping to see Daisy deer at the feeder below. Most days, we keep watch out the back door in hopes we might catch Daisy feasting from the corn feeder or sipping a drink from the water tub. FD stood for a short time and said, “Is that an owl down at the base of the tree?” At first, I did not even bother to look. I grabbed the camera with the zoom lens and then looked out the window. Sure enough, it was a Barred Owl. I had only seen a barred owl once before, perched high in a tree in our woodlands. I marveled at the soulful, dark eyes, and was amazed at how camouflaged it appeared in the trees. Had FD not pointed it out to me I would never have seen it. If you would like to see a beautiful video of the barred owl and listen to its call, please visit Barred Owl Amazing Vocals on YouTube. It is the same “Who cooks for YOU… Who cooks for you all” vocals that we hear in our woods each day at dawn and especially at dusk. This video is exceptional.
I carefully slipped out the sliding glass door, hoping not to frighten the owl away. I knew better. As soon as I stepped on the back porch, the owl silently took off in flight… and he had something – a bird – clutched in his talons. He flew off to the north, into the neighbor’s trees. He was so well camouflaged, I could barely make out his form. Just as I began grumbling about not getting a photograph, the owl changed perching spots and flew down to a fence post, where his not-quite-expired subject continued to flap its wings, dangling upside-down.
This particular barred owl had nabbed a mourning dove, who was likely feeding on the deer corn or perhaps getting a drink of water at the water tub. While we keep our feeders under a canopy of trees and not out in the open, occasionally a predator will manage an attack on birds or squirrels as they feed or get water. Earlier in the summer, FD and I witnessed an old bobcat snaring an unsuspecting squirrel at the deer feed bucket. The bobcat walked off with the limp body in its mouth, while a chatter of nearby squirrels called out warning for several minutes after. It was disturbing to me and I wanted to be angry at the bobcat, but I also realized this was a part of the circle of life. I felt the same this morning as I watched the morning dove flap its wings, and then, finally, it became still.
From the back porch, I was able to get several good shots of the barred owl. He sat atop the fence post for a long time, looking all around him as if he were waiting on something. Perhaps his mate was nearby, I wondered, just as FD let out a few fairly good barred owl calls, which caused the owl to twist his head towards the porch, eyeing us curiously. After a while, he appeared to attempt to eat his prey, but the top of the post did not seem to allow ample space for working on his meal. As if to say, “The heck with this!”, the owl pivoted his body, spread his wings, and silently disappeared into the wooded area behind our neighbor’s house.
I was thankful for the opportunity to photograph this owl, a species we so seldom notice in our woodlands. Perhaps now, I will be more apt to spot this well-camouflaged bird as I track the audible sound of its distinct call. What a gift it was to observe it! Yet this was really nothing, compared to the gift provided by the morning dove, who gave its life as nourishment for the owl, and as a reminder of the roles some must play in nature…
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…