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Short-eared Owl [video]

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl on Telephone Pole

Yesterday evening I was invited to join a State Biologist from the Department of Environmental Conservation in banding some Short-eared Owls up in the Buffalo, NY area. If you know me . . . . I couldn’t resist this opportunity to seeing such an amazing bird up close. I decided to take a half day from work and drive the 2 hours up north for these marvelous birds! Chuck and his team had already finished setting everything up and was about to starting to test the equipment (sunset was approaching fast). Just as he felt that everything was ready . . . . the most beautiful Short-eared Owl suddenly appeared from behind us as if it was a flying ghost!! I never saw so many people scatter to there vehicles as I did then!!

I was at the farthest north section of the field and monitoring a few traps that we had out in the field. We all had radios with us and it came across that they had just caught a Northern Harrier. I felt like a little kid in being too focused on the traps and hoping for our first Short-eared Owl of the night! By the time I made it to the Southern end . . . . the group had already released the Harrier (No worries, we were here for Owls)! Our section had one individual that we thought we might have had captured . . . . but it somehow got away without getting its feet tangled! The Southern end also had an “almost” capture, which ultimately amazes me how smart these birds really are! Last evening we didn’t banded any Short-eared Owls but I did get some reasonable video of them (considering how fast it got dark). I felt it was a remarkable day with a great opportunity to watch these stunning birds go up and down the field in-search of food. Highlight of the night was the one owl flying directly over the hood of my truck!! It felt like a dream with angels circling!


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33 responses

  1. That was really cool! I’ve never seen anything like that before!

    1 February 2008 at 7:38 pm

  2. Sweet. Owling with Chuck is always a good time. Short-ears a one of my more favorite species, too. Tell Chuck I said hi next time you talk to him.

    Cheers,
    Nick

    1 February 2008 at 7:49 pm

  3. Wow–that’s great. I am amazed you got that video.

    1 February 2008 at 7:49 pm

  4. Hey Mr. Tom. It looked as if you had a bunch of fun. I too had quite an ornithological experience today. That Cooper’s Hawk that has been hanging around our feeder made a kill and I was about 10 feet away shoveling snow! It was insane. The thing just whizzed past and killed a sparrow. It then contentedly sat on our fence, ate its dinner and wiped its beak on the fence post. There is still blood all over our fence. We should probably clean that up soon, but either way, it was crazy!

    1 February 2008 at 7:51 pm

  5. Great video! Glad you had a good time.
    ~nita~

    1 February 2008 at 8:00 pm

  6. Thanks for sharing. Great that you were able to catch the owl in flight too.

    1 February 2008 at 8:12 pm

  7. Marg

    Oh that video was cool the flight left me breathless!
    How exciting I hope you get another chance sometime and catch some!

    1 February 2008 at 8:49 pm

  8. Tom

    Tom, thank you for sharing this video. The merger of nature and technology is fairly spectacular.

    Tom

    1 February 2008 at 8:57 pm

  9. NatureShutterbug

    What a great video! Have never seen a SE Owl before – now I know what it looks like. I bet I’ll be as excited as you were.

    1 February 2008 at 10:08 pm

  10. Wow–so neat to see him swivel his head 180 like that!
    Did he catch whatever he was after?

    1 February 2008 at 10:42 pm

  11. @ Rondi – thanks and they are fun birds for sure!
    @ Nick – will do and always fun for sure!
    @ Joan – always expect the unexpected with me!
    @ Scienceguy – amazing encounter for sure and those guys can really make a mess of the area! Thanks for sharing!
    @ Nita – thanks and was fun for sure!
    @ Ruth – I had a longer clip of it flying but that was my favorite part of the clip!
    @ Marg – thanks and I also hope he is able to get out soon or even Monday when I am off from work!!
    @ Tom – thanks and I never would have expected many years ago to be posting my video’s online! It is amazing for sure!
    @ NatureShutterbug- thanks and you must get out to see them! I am always in aww with every encounter!
    @ Nina – not sure but they were busy searching for things out in the fields!

    1 February 2008 at 10:43 pm

  12. Nice video! I love Short-eared Owls, they are so fun to watch

    1 February 2008 at 10:52 pm

  13. Awesome video! I’ve only seen one SEOW here – they’re not particulary common in this area.

    1 February 2008 at 11:10 pm

  14. Grace

    Thanks for sharing your video. I love the way he turns his head so far. Great still photo too.

    1 February 2008 at 11:29 pm

  15. Whoot! SEOW! As you know, I got my lifer SEOW this winter at a local park that seems to be hosting “Raptor-Palooza” this season.
    Love the video…they are so fast, even though they look like feathered bricks.

    1 February 2008 at 11:40 pm

  16. That would really be exciting! Great video.

    2 February 2008 at 12:57 am

  17. pwrbrdr

    It reminds me very much of living in Clarion County, PA. I got to see several almost everynight in the winter and out of the 15 years there, had them breeding at least 4 of those. I love those ghostlike birds!

    2 February 2008 at 6:11 am

  18. Great that you saw one – even if you didn’t get to see it up close.

    2 February 2008 at 8:27 am

  19. Lisa at Greenbow

    Hello Monarch,

    Good footage. I just love to see these owls. They are one of the few owls that one can get good looks at regularly when you find their hunting grounds. Around here they winter in reclaimed mine properties. We make several treks out to watch them during winter. I love to hear their barking call. It reminds me of small dogs yapping at each other. Sometimes we can get relatively close.

    2 February 2008 at 9:32 am

  20. Hi Tom,
    Thank you for the video. I have never seen a short eared owl! They are amazing birds. I too love Owls and seeing them so close must be a grand experience. Think I need to get outside at dusk more in the winter. I have a tendancy to snuggle in at sunset. The light does fade fast but you were able to get some nice footage.
    Sherry

    2 February 2008 at 9:41 am

  21. Peter

    Excellent story, Tom, and neat video to go along with it. I wonder where that was…”Buffalo NY area”? The country in the video reminded me of Niagara County fields where we’ve had success owling with Chuck before. Thanks again!!

    2 February 2008 at 12:30 pm

  22. @ Veery – thanks and they are fun for sure!
    @ Adam – thanks and I have always had luck when going out looking for them!
    @ Grace – glad you enjoyed it and I was so excited when he was looking around like that!
    @ Susan – I remember that and isn’t it amazing seeing them?
    @ Linda – thanks and was!
    @ John – when I lived in Pittsburgh in one of those counties we had many more flying around in the strip lands! Was amazing for sure!
    @ Marty – I am not sure how many all together I saw but was great for sure the let me do a little filming of them!
    @ Lisa – thanks and I have to agree how cooperative they are. I thought I had heard one once it was dark but was further away and couldn’t tell for sure!
    @ Sherry – So glad you enjoyed this and you must take the time to find them! Night is fun for sure!
    @ Peter – was great for sure and thanks!

    2 February 2008 at 12:50 pm

  23. VERY cool Tom!!! Yay for you!!

    2 February 2008 at 2:55 pm

  24. Pam – Thanks, was fun for sure!

    2 February 2008 at 7:30 pm

  25. Excellent camera work! This was exciting for me to watch. I’ve heard owls, but never seen one in motion. Thank you for this.

    2 February 2008 at 9:20 pm

  26. Gee, Tom. I need to get out in the evening, too. I’d love to see an owl…

    Great video. Glad you had a wonderful time!

    2 February 2008 at 9:54 pm

  27. Wow, amazing that timeliness of this post. You might not be into all my woo-woo totem stuff, heh, but this is amazingly synchronous. The day before your post here, I did a post on getting the owl totem (had seen the owl in some form three times that day), and I had seen and mentioned in my “update” how the owl I first saw had it’s back to me. I was surprised when I saw the first pic of your owl, but was stunned at seeing the back of it. Hmmm, quite intriguing :)

    3 February 2008 at 12:52 pm

  28. Well, actually I see that the mention the owl having its back to me wasn’t in the update, but in the second comment, which I made to a girl who sent me one of the owl emails, which included a pic that she’d taken of an owl that looked much like the one on my website. And my original post was on January 30th, I forgot there was a 31st. So my post was done two days before yours. That second comment was made about 53 minutes (per the time on it) before you made your post here. I see now it isn’t the whole back of the owl, but just the back of it’s head in your pic. Even so, still very amazing :)

    3 February 2008 at 1:05 pm

  29. @ Caroline – thanks and they are fun to watch!
    @ Mary – do get out for sure! I bet there are some in your area!
    @ dovelove – how amazing for sure! I can’t remember if I saw that or not! Will need to go find now! Thanks (yep it’s the back of the head)

    3 February 2008 at 5:15 pm

  30. I’m in complete agreement with you Tom – watching an owl hunt is right up there with being on the top of a high elevation mountain. For me; it always reminds me of my own limitations. (For example; how no one can truthfully call me graceful.) :)

    3 February 2008 at 5:32 pm

  31. naturespalette

    Great video Mon@arch!

    3 February 2008 at 5:40 pm

  32. Nice video-and good job following the flight! That’s not easy to do.

    3 February 2008 at 10:45 pm

  33. Jim

    Love the SEOW video Mon@rch! The short-eared’s are some of my favorite owls (Northern Saw-Whet and Snowys round out the list, in no particular order). Shooting them is tough– not only does the low light force you to high (noisy) ISOs, but they’re so darn well camouflaged that it’s a real chore just to track them in a viewfinder, to say nothing of getting a focus lock. I haven’t had an opportunity to see any SEOWs this year so I’m glad you had a (relatively) close encounter that you were able to share!

    6 February 2008 at 12:29 am

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