Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nocturnal owl Surveying

It is Nocturnal Owl Survey season here in Canada and two nights ago I was treated to a few rewards before my survey got started – a pair of Barred Owls (Strix varia) duetting in the evening light (photo below shows the male, based on voice) and a Canada Lynx walking along the dirt road! Although common in some parts of their range, Barred Owls occur in low densities in Manitoba and are always a treat for us here.

The following night, I came across 4 Long-eared Owls (Asio otus) displaying in a clearing in a jack pine stand. The owls sometimes glided and sometimes zig-zagged over the clearing and would periodically clap their wings below them producing an audible “snap” noise (such aerial display also seen in other Asio species such as Short-eared Owl). Both sexes were involved as I heard both male and female voices, although I can’t be sure who was clapping. I took a little time in between survey routes to try to photograph this behaviour but was unsuccessful, although I got these shots of a calling bird (presumed male based on voice) at the edge of the clearing. I couldn’t stay long because I had to go on and do other surveys but it was sure hard to tear myself away from the performance.

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