Untamed Images Blog

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    Browsing Posts tagged owlets

    Two great horned owlets find new perches as they roam further from their nest tree.


    Over a span of nearly three weeks this spring, I regularly visited the Madrone Picnic Area in Stevens Creek County Park in Cupertino, CA to observe and photograph a family of Great Horned Owls. I felt incredibly privileged to spend time in the presence of these engrossing creatures. Even when conditions were poor for photography, the family of owls was fascinating to watch. On most visits, I was the only person there with the owls, and for the most part they went about their business while completely ignoring me. Sometimes I would be joined by birders or other photographers, and on several occasions I had the pleasure of pointing out the owls to picnickers or hikers passing by.

    As the weeks passed I was able to witness the three owlets wolfing down meals supplied by their parents, engaging in spirited tussles, testing their wings and taking short flights with awkward and sometimes violent landings. The adults and young owls also kept my attention with their wide range of vocalizations, including screechy begging calls by the owlets, the characteristic hoot-a-hoot, hoo-hoo call of the adults, and a strange guttural barking sound that one of the adults made repeatedly each evening shortly before leaving to hunt.

    I have posted a collection of my favorite images of this owl family on my main website. To navigate to the gallery click on the following link: Recent Images. In addition, I have posted several High-Definition video clips of these owls on my YouTube channel which you can find by clicking this link: Untamed Images YouTube Channel.

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    Two great horned owlets stand shoulder to shoulder within an oak grove in Stevens Creek County Park.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF500mm f/4L IS USM +2.0x, 1/125, f/10, ISO 3200

    I captured this image on April 14th, 2011 on my second visit to visit a family of great horned owls in Stevens Creek Park. Upon arrival at the Madrone picnic area, I quickly located all three owlets and one of their parents. None of the owls was in a very favorable position for a photograph, being situated very high with multiple obstructing branches. A bit of patience paid off, however, as I was surprised to find out that the owlets moved from branch to branch frequently, rather than just snoozing the day away as I had been expecting.

    Even though the owlets had not been out of the nest much more than a week, they were surprisingly mobile as they climbed around their treetop perches using their massive talons to grip the oak branches, assisted by the occasional wing flap. Finally, two of the owlets settled very close to one another on an branch that afforded me a clear view. By now it was nearly seven in the evening, and in the densely forested oak grove the light was becoming quite dim, though because the sun had dipped below a hillside to the west, harsh shadows produced by direct sunlight were no longer an issue. With my Canon 1D Mark IV, I can confidently shoot at high ISO values (ISO 3200 in this case). The low noise signature of this camera combined with the powerful noise reduction algorithms in Adobe Lightroom 3 RAW file converter allow me to make gorgeous prints without sacrificing detail.

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