This morning I saw my first owl in the wild. Here’s how it happened…
My daughter and I were out walking (once again at Cochran Shoals) and had just spotted a Pileated Woodpecker. My heart was thrilled at the sight of this red-crowned bird that I have been waiting to get a good picture of. I whipped out my camera, pulled off the lens cap and was adjusting the focus when a pair of joggers bounded by and frightened my bird away. I ended up with a pathetic picture and a great disdain for those who would spoil the great outdoors with physical fitness. Okay, so I am mostly kidding about the second half of that sentence…mostly. My blogging buddy, Amy Corron, did manage to capture a lovely photo of a Pileated this past weekend (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t allow exercise enthusiasts on her property) so if you want to see what one looks like check out her post.
With the woodpecker now hiding in the woods, we continued along the path and encountered this handsome frog. Doesn’t he look the sort that might just be a prince in disguise?
As we admired this attractive amphibian (and my daughter contemplated giving him a kiss, just in case he really was royalty) a blur of brown flashed over our heads. My first thought was that it was a hawk, but when it landed I saw that it was a huge owl.
Isn’t he awe-inspiring? And just look at his talons! I later learned that he (or she) is a Barred Owl, also known as a Hoot Owl.
He sat and studied the creek, patiently waiting for his next meal to arrive, while I contorted my body into different positions trying to get a clear picture through the twigs and leaves.
Occasionally he would look at us and make sure we weren’t posing any sort of threat. Unlike most birds, whose eyes are on the sides of their heads, owls have front facing eyes. If they want to see another direction, they have to turn their whole head, which is not a problem since they can rotate their heads about 270 degrees. I tried and I can do about 85 degrees. (Go ahead…you know you want to try too!)
He continued to scan the area until he found something that captured his attention. Then he soared off his perch and swooped down toward the swamp, emerging with an enormous water snake in his talons. Okay…that’s a lie. He did swoop down to the water, but my view was less than perfect and so was my skill as a photographer, so I have no idea whether or not he actually caught anything. All I managed to get was a picture of part of his wing…so I’m sticking with the snake story.
Once the owl flew off, we said goodbye to our prince (who seemed pleased to sit for another photo, and equally pleased to have not been on the owl’s menu) and then headed for home.
The last time I went to the Chattahoochee River I got to hang out with a Blue Heron and today I got to see a Barred Owl. I wonder what’s in store for the next visit!