Friday, July 20, 2012

The Wise Ones of the Wood

There are few camera trap captures that excite me more than owls.  It's rare that I get photos or video clips of them, but I've decided that "catching" owls requires alittle skill and ingenuity (see this post by The Codger, and a related post by Random Truth).  Of course, I'm nowhere near as talented in the ingenuity department as those two, so I have to rely mostly on luck....and consequently my stuff isn't as good as theirs!

But, the fact of the matter remains: I got me some owls (and that makes me smile)!

I've had some luck with Barred Owls (Strix varia) in the past on a squirrel carcass back in NC (see here).  But I've never gotten pictures of the big guys, like the Great Horned (Bubo virginianus).  I heard Great Horned Owls calling in the woods behind my house back in January.  In May, I accidentally flushed one from an old oak tree at one of my research sites, and then watched a bunch of crows mob the poor Bubo until it high-tailed it out of the area. 

My parents even had one sitting in a spruce tree along their back lot line one morning about three weeks ago.  The neighbor came by with a camera that had alittle bit of "reach" to it, and she got some decent shots (considering it was through a window from inside of the house).  Check out the talons on that last pic!

Photo by C. Weimar
Photo by C. Weimar seems Squirrel Nutkin's Nemesis is fairly common 'round here.  Thus, I knew there was always the outside chance for a few camera trapped shots of Old Brown.

Recently, my camera trapping luck with owls improved, and I got some video captures of them as bycatch from one of my ongoing research projects.  Note: I can't figure out if its possible to make these clips show up bigger as imbedded into the blog post....thus, they may be easier to see if you maximize their size in your web browser.

First, one of the big boys flies down to nail a bit of dinner at one of my camera sets back in mid-May.  I can't tell if he's successful, or not.......

After that, no owls for quite some time.  Then, in late June a smaller individual flies down to take a stab at an unfortunate critter.  This one appears to actually get his meal.  I had trouble with the ID on this one, so I sent it over to my colleague and bird ID extraordinare, Bill Mueller over at The Future of Birds.  He said (although it's hard to be certain) his guess was a young Great Horned Owl.

Finally, a closer daytime clip of Old Brown from just last week (notice the Robin trying to take a whack at him towards the end).....


  1. Awesome, thanks for posting. In the second video clip, does the owl drop its prey at five or six seconds? Is that the reason we see it swoop over again near the end of the clip? Are you using any sort of bait to attract the prey?

  2. Hey JVN!

    I can't exactly tell if he drops it or not. It looks like he has it, then doesn't...but then perhaps does right before he flies off....

    No bait at these camera sets. These are part of a different scent station project initiated a number of months we have various scents in the pegs. None of them should really attract rodents, specifically. However, I have gotten numerous video clips of rodents running to and fro in front of this camera...we also clear away the vegetationi so the cameras have a clear shot of the scent sticks. Thus, I'm sure the Bubo has been scoping it out as an easy place to grab some grub.

  3. good stuff, man! Owls are definitely tricky.

  4. I'm with you when it comes to owls. They're really special. I've never got one on my camera-traps but perhaps with a bit of luck.....