A Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) searches for prey during a faint midday snow shower in California's Sierra Valley.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF500mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x at 700 mm, 1/2000 sec at f/6.3, ISO 800

Let me give a “shout out” to the Lahontan Audubon Society (LAS) and their Sierra Valley and Yuba Pass online bird guide entry. Alison and I were on the third day of an early-season trip to the Sierra Valley and Yuba Pass. This visit was several weeks earlier in the season than in prior years, and in hindsight, we might have been too early to see much of the abundant birdlife that nests and raises its young in these locations. So, having had my fill of photographing Yellow-headed Blackbirds and Marsh Wrens, I consulted the LAS bird guide which referenced a certain nearby road, stating that “the seasonally flooded sagebrush habitat along this road may produce Short-eared Owl[s].” I wondered to myself when the LAS had created this writeup, and whether it was even relevant in 2012. Since I am so enamored with photographing owls, I figured that it would certainly be worth trying; I just wouldn’t get my hopes up too high.

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