My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Yes . . . A Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl
Long-eared Owl

This week Young Naturalist J was off from school (winter break) and once I learned the crew would be out trying to band Short-eared Owls . . . I just knew we had to go. Weather was a little iffy but the great banding team did a wonderful job getting everything set up!

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl in flight

We saw our first Short-eared Owl foraging in the field once we arrived to the site and J leans over to say “my first for the year”! With one eye on the bird, I introduced Young Naturalist J to everyone and we then headed over to the Northern section where we were assigned to monitor a few traps. We had very little activity and finally decided to eat our subs . . . that’s when we found a Northern Harrier cruising up and down the field looking for its own dinner.

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier in flight (in the snow)

The southern section was continuity being visited with Short-eared Owls and Chuck (project organizer) suggested we come over to watch. We then enjoyed watching a Short-eared Owl feeding on a small rodent in one of the fields. North Section Radio: “we have an owl” South Section Radio: “you see an owl or caught one?” Northern Section Radio: “we caught an owl”! Quickly we turn the truck around and B-line for the Northern Section!! Guess what they caught!

J and LEOW
Young Naturalist J with the Long-eared Owl

I couldn’t believe it but they caught a Long-eared Owl!! O My Goodness . . . Long-eared Owls are very secretive birds and not regularly seen (for me at least). This bird was a lifer for Young Naturalist J and confirms the sighting for me (since my last find, I was only 99.9% sure that I was hearing a Long-eared). Excited . . . everyone in the group was excited!

Me and LEOW
Me with the Long-eared Owl

I would like to thank Chuck and his entire team for allowing us to join him with his Project. It is very interesting seeing how others banders catch birds and then being able to share these experiences with Young Naturalist J (and everyone else). So, thanks!

Long-eared Owl


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51 responses

  1. lvn600

    Congratulations on a great moment for your entire team! You guys are catching Owls and I’ve rarely ever seen them-awesome pictures too!

    21 February 2008 at 8:02 pm

  2. I love the long-eared owl! For some reason they remind me of cats.

    21 February 2008 at 8:05 pm

  3. How cool! I love that first picture — he looks so surprised! 🙂 Congrats to you both!

    21 February 2008 at 8:12 pm

  4. The first pic looks like an owl/deer caught in the headlights :o) What a beautiful creature. Your harrier in the snow is wonderful. I’m so impressed with what you do. Congrats to you and J!

    21 February 2008 at 8:16 pm

  5. Lisa at Greenbow

    Oh now, this is such a stroke of luck. Beautiful bird. You are some lucky birders. You deserve it for getting out and helping with the banding. congrats.

    21 February 2008 at 8:34 pm

  6. I like the last photo. It kind of looks like you’re holding a hand puppet.

    21 February 2008 at 8:41 pm

  7. NatureShutterbug

    Awesome shots – even the far-downs (opposite of close-ups). Love the snow in the Harrier photo.

    21 February 2008 at 8:42 pm

  8. What a wonderful opportunity for Young Naturalist J! I think it’s great that you can share these experience with the kids. I love the harrier in the snow picture, although they all are beautiful…

    21 February 2008 at 9:00 pm

  9. Owls have such a distinctive profile in flight–I’d love to see him swooping low over that field!

    Every time I see some of your junior naturalists, all I can think is, “What a fantastic opportunity for kids!”
    That’s a wonderful thing you’re doing for them!

    21 February 2008 at 10:01 pm

  10. I love that first picture – the expression is priceless.

    21 February 2008 at 10:09 pm

  11. Jim

    Great SEOW and LEOW shots, Mon@rch! I love shooting the SEOWs but it’s a real challenge since the light’s leaving just when they get going. I’ve never gotten a good shot of a Long-eared Owl, so I appreciate the close-up views you’ve provided.

    21 February 2008 at 10:10 pm

  12. Love the big eyes..have never seen an owl other that photos!

    21 February 2008 at 10:17 pm

  13. Amazing pics. I’ve tracked down LEO’s this winter and I’m heading out next week to see if I can track down some Short ears. Amazing pics!

    21 February 2008 at 10:50 pm

  14. @ Lvn600 – thanks and Chuck’s team did do great! Thanks
    @ Heather – LOL, thanks and it kind of does have that cat look to it!
    @ Liza – thanks and it did turn out alright!
    @ Mary – LOL and they are beautiful for sure! Thanks and the harrier did turn out great!
    @ Lisa – isn’t that amazing we were there for this bird! Thanks and just glad the let us join them!
    @ John – you know when holding the birds our hands were not cold!
    @ NatureShutterbug – thanks and that Harrier did turn out good!
    @ Rondi – thanks and he’s a great kid! I think kids that are interested should all get opportunities! It is just important that we find ways of giving them these kinds of opportunities!
    @ Nina – they are so great seeing in flight! Thanks and I think we all should do everything we can to give kids many opportunities like this!
    @ Wren – thanks!
    @ Jim – thanks and they are a challenge for sure! You are very kind and I can say that I have never capture P Falcons like yours!
    @ Naturegirl – thanks and hope once you do get to see them!
    @ Owlman – I thought about you when I did this post! Glad you found it alright! Good luck with your SEOW’s!

    21 February 2008 at 11:23 pm

  15. To hold an owl would be quite an experience, especially a long-eared owl! The pictures are terrific.

    21 February 2008 at 11:39 pm

  16. That LEOW disapproves of all of you.

    BTW: LOVED that pic of the harrier in the snow. Peaceful. Fantastic.

    21 February 2008 at 11:57 pm

  17. That Harrier flies through snow picture is incredible! Amazing. WOW!

    And Young Naturalist J, you are one lucky guy.

    22 February 2008 at 12:37 am

  18. What a beauty! It’s funny how the ears make for a completely different look. cool guy.

    22 February 2008 at 12:52 am

  19. What great pictures of the long eared owl…he looks so shocked and surprised. Lovely pictures. I have never seen one before. Your site is really nice and I always learn so much here.

    22 February 2008 at 2:56 am

  20. winterwoman

    My god, how awesome is this??? Love the shots you get of the birds in flight. Beautiful.

    22 February 2008 at 6:19 am

  21. Marg

    Awesome-congrats all around!

    Love the Harrier in the snow shot 😀

    22 February 2008 at 7:29 am

  22. Wow, nice! I can certainly see why they call it a long-eared owl.

    I love to watch harriers fly… haven’t seen one in quite a while though.

    22 February 2008 at 8:41 am

  23. That’s very cool – there’s a known roost down here, but I haven’t been able to make it to the location (and I’d still need a scope to see it reliably). Great pictures of this beautiful bird – and of the shortie and northern harrier, as well.

    Just curious, but are you holding that owl bare-handed? I would have thought those talons would make that inadvisable!

    22 February 2008 at 9:12 am

  24. Dear Tom,
    Everytime I see you and an Owl you look so happy!
    The Long-eared Owl is a beautiful bird. Very wonderful you and the team were able to spend some up close time with him (?).
    Northern Harrier in the Snow is a fantastic picture.
    Sherry, who has never held an Owl.

    22 February 2008 at 10:50 am

  25. sottovoco

    Fabulous! Congrats to you and your young naturalists. The northern harrier in flight is terrific and a little surreal.

    22 February 2008 at 11:28 am

  26. Wow, your owl posts are always great fun to read!

    Good birding to you

    22 February 2008 at 11:35 am

  27. I couldn’t help but let out a little giggle when I saw the first photo! 🙂 such a cute bird! Would make an excellent cartoon character…

    I agree with what others have said. You seem to be an excellent mentor for the young naturalists – such a great opportunity for the kids.

    Great experience (I’m envious)… and excellent photos! Thanks for sharing.

    22 February 2008 at 12:01 pm

  28. I love all the portraits with the long-eared owl. And the grace of the owl to put up with these photographing humans.

    22 February 2008 at 1:30 pm

  29. So glad J got to see and hold that very cool owl as well! Hmmm… wonder what he will decide to do as a career? :c)

    22 February 2008 at 4:44 pm

  30. This is sooo cool Tom that you AND YNJ got to see a long eared owl!! The Northern Harrier is cool, too! Yay you guys!

    22 February 2008 at 4:58 pm

  31. floweret

    haha, the first picture is quite funny.. with the large eyes as if it’s surprise to see me… I like reading your entries. They are interesting! I was wondering.. is it easy to differentiate a “short-eared” owl with the “long-eared” owl standing from afar?

    22 February 2008 at 6:43 pm

  32. Found your blog via Chicago Nature Lady! Those are beautiful birds…I’d love to find some myself one day! Keep up the great work…

    22 February 2008 at 7:30 pm

  33. You have the most amazing owl pictures ever! It sounds like a fun night hunting them down. Tomorrow I’m going on a day time owl adventure…wish me luck!

    22 February 2008 at 8:52 pm

  34. @ Linda – it sure is, thanks!
    @ Susan . . . is that you or is you bird chick? Thanks!
    @ Trixie – thanks . . it did turn out great!
    @ aullori – Thanks and many other things make them look different from Short-eared Owls!
    @ islandrambles – thanks and was ready to take off. Thanks for your kind words!
    @ Jen – so awesome. . . was lucky for the lighting in them!
    @ Marg – thanks and can’t believe how many love that shot!
    @ Rurality – thanks and they do have long ear tuffs!
    @ Marty – thanks and I hold all birds with bare-hand. They are not rehabilitated birds or even educational birds! When handling them you need to be able to feel there talons or you will regret it! Safer for the bander and bird!
    @ Sherry – thanks and who wouldn’t be happy! Although both J and myself was very cold in these shots!
    @ Sottovoco – thanks and was great watching them in the snow!
    @ Birdfreak – thanks and glad you enjoyed!
    @ Pinar – they are such cute birds! But, you should thank the parents for allowing the time to let there kids enjoy nature! They should be the model that all parents should follow, I am only a tool for seeing the birds up close!
    @ KGMom – thanks and maybe this will be one who will be recaptured again one day to tell us more about their natural history.
    @ Jayne – I am also and whatever he decides to do . . . I know he will do his best.
    @ Pam – can’t you believe it! It was great for sure, thanks!
    @ floweret – when flying in the darkness it can be a little tough to ID but there are some marks to look for! Thanks
    @ Dave – so glad you did and enjoy your kind comment! Thanks
    @ Chicago – thanks and helps having them in the hand. Wish you luck and sure hope you blog about your trip!

    22 February 2008 at 10:28 pm

  35. Fabulous birds! We have great horned owls here on the farm, but they rarely come down near the buildings any more (although they used to). One took a mama skunk right in our driveway years ago, then stopped back every couple of nights to pick off the young ones…although not before one of them skunked our dog. lol

    23 February 2008 at 5:25 am

  36. That was a great night, a little cold but amazing! Thank you for the once in a life time opportunity and the chance of seeing that Long-eared

    23 February 2008 at 8:00 am

  37. I enjoy your people pictures almost as much as the bird pictures :0)

    BUT – Holy Kamoly. You’re handling those birds WITHOUT thick leather gloves. Can’t those talons do you in?

    23 February 2008 at 2:03 pm

  38. Great photos of the long-eared owl–never seen one myself so I appreciate your photos. Young Naturalist J is one lucky person–wish all young people had the same opportunity.

    23 February 2008 at 2:25 pm

  39. @ threecollie – thanks and great they are taking the skunks!! Lets hope more for the dogs sake!
    @ J – sure was and glad you enjoyed it! Was wonderful for sure!
    @ Cathy – thanks and it is good to see us from time to time! If you know what you are doing both the bird and us humans are safe! The gloves take the safe factor way down and no gloves is the best way to go!
    @ Joan – thanks and wish I could share these experiences with more people!

    23 February 2008 at 6:20 pm

  40. Oh I love owls and HE is WONDERFUL
    great pic..
    I love your blog!!
    deena

    23 February 2008 at 11:49 pm

  41. Mel

    Wow! Great pic! Love that first one… “ooops, paparazzi got me!” kind of look ; )

    24 February 2008 at 7:55 pm

  42. Wow this post sure brought you a lot of comments.
    What an awesome experience for you and J

    24 February 2008 at 8:51 pm

  43. @ Deena – thanks and thanks for your kind words!
    @ Mel – thanks and that is a “paparazzi” like shot!
    @ Toni – thanks and brought in many views also! Thanks for visiting as always!

    24 February 2008 at 10:11 pm

  44. Sweet! LEOW would be a lifer for me, and you got fantastic photos of it!

    25 February 2008 at 12:09 pm

  45. Thanks and was very exciting Adam!

    25 February 2008 at 6:43 pm

  46. What a cool photo! I can not imagine getting to hold an owl like that! Wow!

    26 February 2008 at 11:40 am

  47. Whoa! What big eyes you have…

    27 February 2008 at 1:16 am

  48. Long-eared owl, Wow! I have only seen them once in Colorado when I was training to be a volunteer naturalist with Boulder County. Well worth all the excitement! Great photos!

    27 February 2008 at 8:51 am

  49. Gosh Tom….how cool for you and YNJ! What great pictures of the Long-Eared Owl. But for some reason I thought they were much bigger (as big as a Great Horned?) Is that an average-sized adult you guys are holding?

    29 February 2008 at 7:53 am

  50. I found your site through another, and WOW, I’m glad I did. Your photos are incredible!! I just love this owl, beautiful shots. P.S. I want your camera, you get outstanding shots!!

    4 March 2008 at 7:41 am

  51. Michelle Perez

    Hi! Those are great pics. Are they people friendly? We live in the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago, and tonight we found a deceased long-eared owl in our next door neighbors front yard. I took pics. I was wondering do they prey on cats and or could the cats have harmed it?

    7 May 2008 at 12:46 am

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