I had been seeing several Barred Owls posted on some of the facebook groups I follow taken at Colleyville Nature Center. So I decided I would go check it out. When I got out there the morning of April first, there was already 5 other photographers there. They stated they had seen one Barred Owl but couldn’t get close enough to get any decent shots.
I asked them if they minded if I tried to call them and see what might happened. I have called both Barred and Great Horned Owls with my photography buddy Mike (“the owl whisper”).
I set up and called one time, within 1 minute I had both the male and female sitting in the tree above us. Let me introduce the cast of this post.
The female: The Male:I believe them to be brother and sister from last year. That would make them too young to breed. I later found the other Mature set I believe that are sitting on eggs. Therefore, I believe they have kicked these two out to fend for themselves. Having grown up together they are really sticking close to each other. I had seen several photos of both owls on the same branch but I wasn’t that lucky!
I have studied Owl behavior in the field over the past 3 season and believe I am starting to understand them. I asked the group if they had all the portrait shots they wanted they replied yes. I asked if they wanted a launch or flight series. They didn’t believe I could use a different call to launch and fly straight at straight at us. I told them to get their settings ready. Once there were all ready, I called and sure enough, they male few straight at us.
Male launch series: Not everybody got the shots they wanted. We followed them fly from tree to tree leading us away from the home tree. I then told them lets go get out into the open so it would be easier to get some flight shots and sure enough I called them right over for 2 or 3 passes back and forth across the open area.
Mike had instructed me to get your shots and not to over work any one bird. The were very receptive and more than cooperative. I didn’t feel too bad since I knew they weren’t nesting and it was 68 degrees so they were needing extra energy to stay warm.
I then headed deeper into the woods to find the nest tree of the breeding pair. I had seen photos of the hole and it didn’t take me long to find it.
The group watch that hole for a good 30 minutes, nothing. I told them I don’t call females off the nest. I said I would try and call the male to see if he was guarding the nest tree from above. One owl usually watches over the tree while the other sits on the eggs. The guarding owls hunts and brings food back to the nest.
I called once,,, waited 5 minutes nothing. Used a different call and called one more time, sure enough the male climbed up out of the hole, sit there for photos and then launched.
Dang it! Too much glass and clipped the wings.
On the way out back to the car, the juvenile pair was really being harassed by several blue jays. I called the male one more time since they were both very active trying to lose the Jays. I’m batman! I have been trying to get this pose where the owl is looking through the finger wings. They wings weren’t opened as much as I wanted but I still like this pose.
I will be going back to check foe babies and fledging as time allows. I hope to be able to juggle golf, photography and some pool time. It really feels good to be shooting at least once a week and finding some interesting stuff that is helping to make Texas feel more like home.
Life is good and I am blessed!
Enjoy the photos and what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right.