Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Short-eared Owl: Kidder County, ND

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
A few weeks ago, I found myself riding along one of the farm roads in northern Kidder County, North Dakota, with a busload of bird watchers, on a Big Day outing for the Potholes & Prairie Birding Festival. It was late afternoon, the sky was gray and overcast. As we topped a small rise in the road (this part of ND is full of gentle, rolling hills) we came upon this very cooperative short-eared owl. Immediately the cameras swung into position and we tried to inch closer with the front door open to get a good shot.

I was looking at the bird's belly and wondering if this bird had just been on the nest incubating eggs or brooding owlets (note the obvious cleft in the breast and belly feathers). If this hypothesis is correct, that would make this bird a female since they do most of the incubation and brooding. Males help by bringing food to the nest site for the female and, eventually, the owlets.

She soon grew aware of our giant people-mover inching ever closer. So she shook herself, took a quick poop...

And launched into flight.

We saw at least five short-eared owls (and 109 other bird species) that day, but the owl was my favorite photo subject of the expedition.


On June 23, 2010 at 6:32 PM Jason Kessler said...

What a cuteypie!