December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Birds

As Christmas Day was coming to a close my dad and I headed out in search of Short-eared Owls. We have had several failed attempts at locating this species so far this fall so I figured that our chances would be slim. We stopped at three large wetland areas before finding them. The first location we stopped at was the Luton WMA North Unit. As we pulled up to the area I spotted a Northern Shrike perched atop a small tree. I haven't had one yet this fall so it was a nice surprise. As we drove along we saw a few birds including Ring-necked Pheasant, Horned Lark, and Red-winged Blackbird but there was no owl to be seen. After that we headed to the south unit and found nothing but pheasants and larks. We decided to try one last spot before the day was over. The Owego Wetland Complex was not only the last stop but it was the best stop for Short-eared Owls. On the way there a couple Horned Larks and meadowlarks flushed from the road. When we got there it looked rather lifeless with no birds to be seen. The sun was setting and it was getting late.
I took out my scope and scanned the large wetland area. Only a moment later I found a large bird coursing over the fields. It was a Short-eared Owl! The search was finally over to find this species for my year list and I was rather happy to find one on Christmas. I got out a bird caller that my mom gave me for Christmas as a side gift and I used it to mimic mice. Only a few seconds later the owl was headed right for us! He quickly came and landed in a field behind our car. As he sat there I got the picture below by poking out the sunroof. It is a nice picture considering the distance and lighting at the time.I continued making the squeaking noises as he flew around trying to find what was making all that noise. A few moments later he dissapeared just as quickly as he had appeared, not to be seen again. Incase there where anymore of them to be found my dad and I drove around the area for a short while. We were rewarded with great looks at an owl that was perched on a post. He stayed there long enough for me to get a decent picture.The Short-eared Owls were a great Christmas treat adding to the fun of the already great day!

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