Short Eared Owl

What a Hoot
My family and I have always, and I mean always, had bird feeders in our various yards. When I was a kid in Massachusetts, my grandparents had feeders up that drew Cardinals, Grosbeaks (both Evening and Rose-Breasted), nuthatches and many other species of birds. When we moved to the Annapolis Valley when I was a teen, we put up feeders on our back deck and out on the edge of the orchard, and that drew in not only the songbirds, but gamebird species like Ring-Necked pheasants and Grey Partridge. When I was out on my own, Norma and I moved to Lockeport and our home in Wallbrook, at the top of Lockeport Harbour, was a mecca for feeder bird-watching, so much so that one birding friend referred to our property as “sparrow central”.
Given that history, when we moved to our current property 15 years ago this month, one of the first things we did was set up bird feeders to supplement the natural abundance of food available on our almost 50 acres. We’ve been very pleased to see all the chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches and finches that regularly visit our feeders, and of course the juncos, sparrows and other assorted “regulars”. This last week, though, we’ve had a rather unusual visitor.
A short-eared owl has taken up residence in our small woodlot, and it’s now taken to visiting the area near the feeder quite regularly. We saw a short eared owl here 4 years ago, but it only came once and until this past week we hadn’t seen one again. I got a couple of nice images of this year’s owl as he sat on our back deck, but now he’s teasing me to try for more pictures, as he flies over to the post where our flag pole goes in the non-winter months, just 50 feet or so from one of the bird feeding stations. The image this week I got by patiently waiting for him to arrive, and then taking a burst of images as he sat first looking at the feeders, then looking at me and the racket my Nikon was making!
Having the feeders up is great fun, because you never know what might show up and if they’ll pose long enough for me to get my camera out. This particular bird is very photogenic, which is an added bonus.
Now, if only that sparrow would hold still long enough for me to identify!