Our beautiful Tasmanian Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae castenops) was once described by John Gould (biologist) as ‘…a species distinguished from all other members of its genus by its great size and powerful form.
Probably, few of the Raptorial birds, with the exception of the Eagles, are more formidable or more sanguinary (causing much bloodshed) in disposition.’
After this beauty flew up to the tree tops, I packed up and walked back down to the house to close windows, feed the dog and cat, stoke the woodheater…and go collect more wood in a barrow. It was dark. I had a torch.
Whilst at the woodpile I heard our chooks cry out. I had not yet closed their door for the night. Rushing in…there she was…looking perplexed…on the floor of the chook house…what’s all the noise about…I’m just after my chicken dinner!
I walked in between the terrified chickens and the owl…shining my torch on the ground so she could still see.
Slowly we turned around and together we left the chook house…both walking in a nonchalant manner.
She then flew up to the fence. I stood next to her…about a rulers length away. We had a quiet moment. I told her it’s not OK to eat the chooks. She let me pat her briefly.
Great grey owls perch on relatively low tree branches, making them a photographer’s dream.
This particular owl and another juvenile in the area were quite dedicated hunters and would search for mice and voles in the dry grass and meadows, swooping long and low before gliding back up to a suitable perch.
It was seemingly unfazed by human presence and would stare right into the camera often both during flight and while scanning for prey from the pine branches.
Image Credit: Photograph by Jennifer Rogers. All Rights Reserved.
A snowy owl named Prairie Ronde has become the latest addition to Project SNOWstorm, a collaborative effort to track the giant raptors that have descended into Michigan in recent winters from their typical home in the tundra.
Once a rare sight, the birds have begun to move into northern states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, and states in the Northeast. They sometimes create a dangerous nuisance on airports, where they like to perch to watch for mice and voles across the open expanse that may resemble the tundra to them, said Rich Keith of the Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory.
The large birds, with wingspans of up to five-and-a-half feet, can interfere with flights.
Her transmitter was funded by donations to Project SNOWstorm, a study of the birds’ movements.
Last year 22 snowy owls were fitted with transmitters, four in Wisconsin and the rest in the Northeast.
This year, Michigan joined the effort, with transmitters for birds trapped in the Upper Peninsula, Grand Rapids and Saginaw.
Last year far more than usual of the birds were sighted in Michigan, and at first scientists thought it might be due to a food shortage in the north.
Abundant lemmings, a food source there, led to lots of young birds hatching the summer before last, and the reasoning was that perhaps those young birds were forced to fly far out of their way to successfully compete for food when winter came, Keith said.
Snowy owls can lay up to eight eggs, and raise all off the nest when there is an abundant lemming population, Keith said.
But where they travel and when has been somewhat of a mystery, and the transmitters may shed some light. Keith said the hope is to learn more about how the owls are using wintering habitat, where are they coming from, and what kind of habitat and food are they looking for.
Image Credit: Photograph by Ilya Naymushin, REUTERS
Zoo employee Daria Cherepanova walks with Mykh, an 8-month-old great gray owl, during a training session.
The training sessions are part of Royev Ruchey Zoo’s programme of taming wild animals for research, and for the enlightenment and interaction with visitors, in the Siberian Taiga Forest in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.