Seeing as Bird of the Moment has been such a rarity lately, I thought I’d finish the year on a special note. So here’s a species that I always wanted to photograph, but never thought I would: maybe on the ‘if the god(s) is/are kind bucket list’.
But before that here is my greetings of the season; too late for Christmas but in time for 2018, which is perhaps the more important – longer anyway.
Two weeks ago I went spotlighting in the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park with some local birding experts, including one who has an official key to the locked gates that normally keep vehicles out of the more remote areas of the Park: the saline flats near Bald Rock and a track that runs through some lovely forest along a tributary of the Bohle River to Shelley Beach.
The target species, and rather a long shot at that, was the Spotted Nightjar which sometimes turns up along the grassy, saline flats. Anyway, the forest produced five Owlet Nightjars, some of which posed for photos and a Tawny Frogmouth, also photographed. On the return through the normally accessible parts of the Park along the main track, we photographed a cooperative Large-tailed NIghtjar and a more distant Barking Owl
The highlight of the night was a Tyto owl on the grass beside the track though the saline flat. Provisionally identified as a Barn Owl, we soon realised that it was a female Eastern Grass Owl, a species recorded only occasionally around Townsville, though more common near Ingham, for example at the eponymous Tyto Wetlands. The female differs from the smaller male in having orange-buff underparts and is distinctive but both genders can be distinguished from the otherwise similar Barn Owl by darker upperparts and much longer, slender legs which trail behind the tail in flight. After photographing it, we flushed it to get a look at its long legs and confirm the identification.
We didn’t find any Spotted Nightjars, but no one cared amid the jubilation at getting such good view of the Grass Owl. We returned a week later for another look. That night, the Tawny Frogmouths were out in force and no sign of either Spotted Nightjars or the Grass Owl. Instead we found a cooperative Barn Owl along perched obligingly in a dead tree in woodland beside the main track. Here it is for comparison.
Grass and Barn Owls have extensive ranges and the ‘Eastern’ in both cases refers to Eastern Eurasia and Australasia. Grass Owls also occur in Africa and there is disagreement whether this is is the same species as the Eastern Form. Similarly, the Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto delicatula, is sometimes split from the Western Eurasian, African and American forms, Tyto alba. Anyway, they’re all gorgeous birds and Australia has an unusually rich selection of five species of about sixteen in total worldwide. Four of the Australian ones are here http://www.birdway.com.au/tytonidae/index_aus.php.
We’ve checked earlier records and it appears that most records of Spotted Nightjars in the Townsville District are in winter, June-August. So, we’ll try again next year, and I hope you have a healthy and rewarding 2018 too.Ian
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.” (Proverbs 9:9-11 KJV)
>Ian, I believe the Creator of this beautiful Eastern Grass Owl has been very kind to your “Bucket List.” Over the years, you have seen and photographed numerous Avian Wonders that you have graciously shared with us.
May your New Year be a great one and, hopefully, your Birds of the Moment/Week articles might come more frequently again.
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) by Raymond Barlow (Not the one being seen)
the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture;
(Leviticus 11:16-18 NKJV)
And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, (Leviticus 11:16-17 KJV)
Florida birdwatchers are pleased to have an odd appearance of a Snowy Owl. She is a young owl, but she has quite a following down here. What makes this so unusual is that she is way out of the normal winter grounds for these birds. This is only the third observation of the Snowy Owl in Florida. We are known for our “Snowbirds,” but the Snowy Owl definitely qualifies as a “Snowbird.”
This bird has made a temporary home at the Little Talbot Island State Park. Not sure how the bird has any privacy. Birdwatchers from all around are making trips to Duval County, where Jacksonville is located. She was still there as of yesterday, Jan 5, 2014.
Snowy Owl (bubo scandiacus) are members of the Strigidae – Owl Family. They are the largest North American Owl. Owls are a Bird of the Bible and depending on which version you use, Owls are mentioned in 14 verses in the KJV, but a “Snowy Owl” is not mentioned, but the “great” and “white” owls are mentioned. What a lovely creation from our Lord.
This yellow-eyed, black-beaked white bird is easily recognizable. It is 52–71 cm (20–28 in) long, with a 125–150 cm (49–59 in) wingspan. Also, these birds can weigh anywhere from 1.6 to 3 kg (3.5 to 6.6 lb). It is one of the largest species of owl and, in North America, is on average the heaviest owl species. The adult male is virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark scalloping; the young are heavily barred, and dark spotting may even predominate. Its thick plumage, heavily feathered taloned feet, and colouration render the Snowy Owl well-adapted for life north of the Arctic Circle.
Snowy Owl calls are varied, but the alarm call is a barking, almost quacking krek-krek; the female also has a softer mewling pyee-pyee or prek-prek. The song is a deep repeated gahw. They may also clap their beak in response to threats or annoyances. While called clapping, it is believed this sound may actually be a clicking of the tongue, not the beak.
This powerful bird relies primarily on lemmings and other small rodents for food during the breeding season, but at times of low prey density, or during the ptarmigan nesting period, they may switch to favoring juvenile ptarmigan. They are opportunistic hunters and prey species may vary considerably, especially in winter. They feed on a wide variety of small mammals such as meadow voles and deer mice, but will take advantage of larger prey, frequently following traplines to find food. Some of the larger mammal prey includes hares, muskrats, marmots, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, prairie dogs, rats, moles, smaller birds, entrapped furbearers. Birds preyed upon include ptarmigan, other ducks, geese, shorebirds, pheasants, grouse, coots, grebes, gulls, songbirds, and even other raptors, including other owl species. Most of the owls’ hunting is done in the “sit and wait” style; prey may be captured on the ground or in the air, or fish may be snatched off the surface of bodies of water using their sharp talons. Each bird must capture roughly 7 to 12 mice per day to meet its food requirement and can eat more than 1,600 lemmings per year.
Snowy Owls, like many other birds, swallow their small prey whole. Strong stomach juices digest the flesh, while the indigestible bones, teeth, fur, and feathers are compacted into oval pellets that the bird regurgitates 18 to 24 hours after feeding. Regurgitation often takes place at regular perches, where dozens of pellets may be found. Biologists frequently examine these pellets to determine the quantity and types of prey the birds have eaten. When large prey are eaten in small pieces, pellets will not be produced. (Wikipedia)
Ian’s Bird of the Week – Powerful Owl ~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 12/9/2012
My apologies again for a tardy bird of the week, so here is something special. Well, special for me, anyway, as it has been a serious bogey bird for me. All addicted birders and bird photographers have their bogeys, in the sense of ‘an evil or mischievous spirit, a cause of annoyance or harassment’ usually a species that is invisible to the victim or hides whenever the victim is around.
Powerful Owls first cast an evil spell on me on 11 February 1999 when one in Pennant Hills Park made my film camera malfunction so that the entire film was hopelessly underexposed – you can see the wicked gleam in its eye below. As soon as I picked up the film from the chemist the following day, I went back to Pennant Hills Park but the owl was no longer there or no longer visible.
Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 2
Shortly after that I moved from Sydney and switched to digital photography (nowadays we take instant photographic feedback for granted). Since then, whenever I’ve visited Sydney I’ve looked for Powerful Owls in all their usual haunts – Pennant Hills Park, Mitchell Park, Beecroft, Warriewood, Royal Botanic Gardens, Royal National Park, etc. – without success.
Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 3
Last Tuesday I gave a talk on parrots to Birding NSW in Sydney and inquired about POs. Yes, one had been seen in its favourite tree, the White Fig, near the entrance to Government House the previous Saturday. I went there on Wednesday and searched the tree for at least 20 minutes but the owl remained invisible until I decided to leave. Delighted with its success, it let its guard down, the spell weakened and I got the briefest visual sensation, like a shimmering mirage, of a barred tail. Powerful Owls are big 60-65cm/24-26in in length, it was then quite visible from the ground and not very high up, so a spell is the only explanation.
Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 4
The next day, I went birding with Madeleine Murray and we abandoned plans to look for the owl (they’re quite visible to her) and went instead to Port Hacking, south of Sydney, where, lo and behold, we found another one, or to be more accurate Mad found it after I’d walked straight past it as the spell hadn’t entirely dissipated – it normally does so quite quickly after it has been broken once.
Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 5
The Powerful Owl is the largest of the Hawk Owls (genus Ninox) and exceeded in size only by the world’s largest owls such as the Grey Grey and the larger Eagle Owls. It is found in eastern and southeastern Australia usually within 200km of the coast from central Queensland to eastern South Australia. It has large territories ranging in size from 3-15 square kilometres so it is nowhere common and is listed as Vulnerable. However, it seems to be quite tolerant of selective logging and can survive in patchy forests. It feeds mainly on arboreal mammals such as possums, but will also take flying foxes (fruit bats) and roosting birds.
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 firstname.lastname@example.org
Check the latest website updates: http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates
Glad you sent us a Bird of the Week, Ian. I was starting to worry about you, that maybe you were sick or something. The wait was worth it because this is a beautiful Owl. I am glad you are no longer under this bird’s “evil spell on” you.
The Powerful Owl is part of the Strigidae – Owl Family. To see more photos of them, check out Ian’s photos and our Family page here:
Snowy Owl for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897
Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
Vol 1. June, 1897 No. 6
THE SNOWY OWL.
EW of all the groups of birds have such decided markings, such characteristic distinctions, as the Owl. There is a singular resemblance between the face of an Owl and that of a cat, which is the more notable, as both of these creatures have much the same habits, live on the same prey, and are evidently representatives of the same idea in their different classes. The Owl, in fact, is a winged cat, just as the cat is a furred owl.
The Snowy Owl is one of the handsomest of this group, not so much on account of its size, which is considerable, as by reason of the beautiful white mantle which it wears, and the large orange eyeballs that shine with the lustre of a topaz set among the snowy plumage.
It is a native of the north of Europe and America, but is also found in the more northern parts of England, being seen, though rather a scarce bird, in the Shetland and Orkney Islands, where it builds its nest and rears its young. One will be more likely to find this owl near the shore, along the line of salt marshes and woody stubble, than further inland. The marshes do not freeze so easily or deep as the iron bound uplands, and field-mice are more plentiful in them. It is so fleet of wing that if its appetite is whetted, it can follow and capture a Snow Bunting or a Junco in its most rapid flight.
Like the Hawk Owl, it is a day-flying bird, and is a terrible foe to the smaller mammalia, and to various birds. Mr. Yarrell in his “History of the British Birds,” states that one wounded on the Isle of Balta disgorged a young rabbit whole, and that a young Sandpiper, with its plumage entire, was found in the stomach of another.
In proportion to its size the Snowy Owl is a mighty hunter, having been detected chasing the American hare, and carrying off wounded Grouse before the sportsman could secure his prey. It is also a good fisherman, posting itself on some convenient spot overhanging the water, and securing its finny prey with a lightning-like grasp of the claw as it passes beneath the white clad fisher. Sometimes it will sail over the surface of a stream, and snatch the fish as they rise for food. It is also a great lover of lemmings, and in the destruction of these quadruped pests does infinite service to the agriculturist.
The large round eyes of this owl are very beautiful. Even by daylight they are remarkable for their gem-like sheen, but in the evening they are even more attractive, glowing like balls of living fire.
From sheer fatigue these birds often seek a temporary resting place on passing ships. A solitary owl, after a long journey, settled on the rigging of a ship one night. A sailor who was ordered aloft, terrified by the two glowing eyes that suddenly opened upon his own, descended hurriedly to the deck, declaring to the crew that he had seen “Davy Jones a-sitting up there on the main yard.”
THE SNOWY OWL.
What do you think of this bird with his round, puffy head? You of course know it is an Owl. I want you to know him as the Snowy Owl.
Don’t you think his face is some like that of your cat? This fellow is not full grown, but only a child. If he were full grown he would be pure white. The dark color you see is only the tips of the feathers. You can’t see his beak very well for the soft feathers almost cover it.
His large soft eyes look very pretty out of the white feathers. What color would you call them? Most owls are quiet during the day and very busy all night. The Snowy Owl is not so quiet day times. He flies about considerably and gets most of his food in daylight.
A hunter who was resting under a tree, on the bank of a river, tells this of him:
“A Snowy Owl was perched on the branch of a dead tree that had fallen into the river. He sat there looking into the water and blinking his large eyes.
Suddenly he reached out and before I could see how he did it, a fish was in his claws.”
This certainly shows that he can see well in the day time. He can see best, however, in the twilight, in cloudy weather or moonlight. That is the way with your cat.
The wing feathers of the owl are different from those of most birds. They are as soft as down. This is why you cannot hear him when he flies. Owls while perching are almost always found in quiet places where they will not be disturbed.
Did you ever hear the voice of an owl in the night? If you never have, you cannot imagine how dreary it sounds. He surely is “The Bird of the Night.”
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) by J Fenton
The Owl is mentioned 8 times in the NKJV of the Bible and it qualifies as a Bird of the Bible. These verses are from the “unclean” list:
the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; (Leviticus 11:18 NKJV)
the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl, (Deuteronomy 14:16 NKJV)
Because Snowy Owls live in cold weather often, they have feathers that cover most of their legs and feet. The Lord has provided extra protection for them this way. A lack of pigment leaves extra space in the feathers to help keep them warm and also is the reason they are so white. Also being white helps protect them from being seen so well in snow. Another interesting thing is that they hunt in the daytime more than regular owls. When you live way up north by the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets for periods of time. An owl could get might hungry waiting for darkness to go hunting.
“Most of the owls’ hunting is done in the “sit and wait” style; prey may be captured on the ground, in the air or fish may be snatched off the surface of bodies of water using their sharp talons. Each bird must capture roughly 7 to 12 mice per day to meet its food requirement and can eat more than 1,600 lemmings per year.
Snowy Owls, like many other birds, swallow their small prey whole. Strong stomach juices digest the flesh, while the indigestible bones, teeth, fur, and feathers are compacted into oval pellets that the bird regurgitates 18 to 24 hours after feeding. Regurgitation often takes place at regular perches, where dozens of pellets may be found. Biologists frequently examine these pellets to determine the quantity and types of prey the birds have eaten. When large prey are eaten in small pieces, pellets will not be produced.
Though Snowy Owls have few predators, the adults are very watchful and are equipped to defend against any kind of threat towards them or their offspring. During the nesting season, the owls regularly defend their nests against arctic foxes, corvids and swift-flying jaegers; as well as dogs, gray wolves and avian predators. Males defend the nest by standing guard nearby while the female incubates the eggs and broods the young. Both sexes attack approaching predators, dive-bombing them and engaging in distraction displays to draw the predator away from a nest.” (Wikipedia)
Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 June, 1897 No 6 – Cover
The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.
Screech Owl for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897
Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
Vol 1. May, 1897 No. 5
THE MOTTLED OR “SCREECH” OWL.
IGHT WANDERER,” as this species of Owl has been appropriately called, appears to be peculiar to America. They are quite scarce in the south, but above the Falls of the Ohio they increase in number, and are numerous in Virginia, Maryland, and all the eastern districts. Its flight, like that of all the owl family, is smooth and noiseless. He may be sometimes seen above the topmost branches of the highest trees in pursuit of large beetles, and at other times he sails low and swiftly over the fields or through the woods, in search of small birds, field mice, moles, or wood rats, on which he chiefly subsists.
The Screech Owl’s nest is built in the bottom of a hollow trunk of a tree, from six to forty feet from the ground. A few grasses and feathers are put together and four or five eggs are laid, of nearly globular form and pure white color. This species is a native of the northern regions, arriving here about the beginning of cold weather and frequenting the uplands and mountain districts in preference to the lower parts of the country.
In the daytime the Screech Owl sits with his eyelids half closed, or slowly and alternately opening and shutting, as if suffering from the glare of day; but no sooner is the sun set than his whole appearance changes; he becomes lively and animated, his full and globular eyes shine like those of a cat, and he often lowers his head like a cock when preparing to fight, moving it from side to side, and also vertically, as if watching you sharply. In flying, it shifts from place to place “with the silence of a spirit,” the plumage of its wings being so extremely fine and soft as to occasion little or no vibration of the air.
The Owl swallows its food hastily, in large mouthfuls. When the retreat of a Screech Owl, generally a hollow tree or an evergreen in a retired situation, is discovered by the Blue Jay and some other birds, an alarm is instantly raised, and the feathered neighbors soon collect and by insults and noisy demonstration compel his owlship to seek a lodging elsewhere. It is surmised that this may account for the circumstance of sometimes finding them abroad during the day on fences and other exposed places.
Both red and gray young are often found in the same nest, while the parents may be both red or both gray, the male red and the female gray, or vice versa.
The vast numbers of mice, beetles, and vermin which they destroy render the owl a public benefactor, much as he has been spoken against for gratifying his appetite for small birds. It would be as reasonable to criticise men for indulging in the finer foods provided for us by the Creator. They have been everywhere hunted down without mercy or justice.
During the night the Screech Owl utters a very peculiar wailing cry, not unlike the whining of a puppy, intermingled with gutteral notes. The doleful sounds are in great contrast with the lively and excited air of the bird as he utters them. The hooting sound, so fruitful of “shudders” in childhood, haunts the memory of many an adult whose earlier years, like those of the writer, were passed amidst rural scenery.
I wouldn’t let them put my picture last in the book as they did my cousin’s picture in March “Birds.” I told them I would screech if they did.
You don’t see me as often as you do the Blue-bird, Robin, Thrush and most other birds, but it is because you don’t look for me. Like all other owls I keep quiet during the day, but when night comes on, then my day begins. I would just as soon do as the other birds—be busy during the day and sleep during the night—but really I can’t. The sun is too bright for my eyes and at night I can see very well. You must have your folks tell you why this is.
I like to make my nest in a hollow orchard tree, or in a thick evergreen. Sometimes I make it in a hay loft. Boys and girls who live in the country know what a hay loft is.
People who know me like to have me around, for I catch a good many mice, and rats that kill small chickens. All night long I fly about so quietly that you could not hear me. I search woods, fields, meadows, orchards, and even around houses and barns to get food for my baby owls and their mamma. Baby owls are queer children. They never get enough to eat, it seems. They are quiet all day, but just as soon as the sun sets and twilight gathers, you should see what a wide awake family a nest full of hungry little screech owls can be.
Did you ever hear your mamma say when she couldn’t get baby to sleep at night, that he is like a little owl? You know now what she means. I think I hear my little folks calling for me so I’ll be off. Good night to you, and good morning for me.
Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) (captive) by Raymond Barlow
Owls belong to the Strigidae – Owls Family which has 207 members. Like most Owls, the females are larger than the males and both are small and agile. They stand about 7-10 in. tall and wings are 18-24 inches across. “They have prominent, wide-set feather tufts with bright yellow eyes. They have different brownish hues with whitish, patterned underside. This coloration helps them get camouflage against the tree bark. They have well-developed raptorial claws and curved bill. They use them as a tool to tear their prey into pieces that are small enough for them to swallow. They tend to carry their prey to the nest and then eat it.”
The Lord has wonderfully created them for just the roll they play, as mentioned above. He has given them special feathers on the fronts of their wings, like most owls, that give them their stealthy quite approach. They are a Bird of the Bible, as Scripture says, have helped teach man. Our Stealth bombers, I understand, used some of these ideas to help keep the planes “stealthy.”
But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? (Job 12:7-10 NKJV)
Thought you might enjoy hearing the sound of a Screech Owl
The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.
Great Horned Owl – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography
Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
Vol 1. March, 1897 No. 3
THE LONG-EARED OWL.
HE name of the Long-Eared Owl is derived from the great length of his “ears” or feather-tufts, which are placed upon the head, and erect themselves whenever the bird is interested or excited. It is the “black sheep” of the owl family, the majority of owls being genuine friends of the agriculturist, catching for his larder so many of the small animals that prey upon his crops. In America he is called the Great Horned Owl—in Europe the Golden Owl. (Today it is the Eurasian Eagle-Owl, I believe.)
Nesting time with the owl begins in February, and continues through March and April. The clown-like antics of both sexes of this bird while under the tender influence of the nesting season tend somewhat to impair their reputation for dignity and wise demeanor. They usually have a simple nest in a hollow tree, but which seems seldom to be built by the bird itself, as it prefers to take the deserted nest of some other bird, and to fit up the premises for its own use. They repair slightly from year to year the same nest. The eggs are white, and generally four or five in number. While the young are still in the nest, the parent birds display a singular diligence in collecting food for them.
If you should happen to know of an owl’s nest, stand near it some evening when the old birds are rearing their young. Keep quiet and motionless, and notice how frequently the old birds feed them. Every ten minutes or so the soft flap, flap of their wings will be heard, the male and female alternately, and you will obtain a brief glimpse of them through the gloom as they enter the nesting place. They remain inside but a short time, sharing the food equally amongst their brood, and then are off again to hunt for more. All night, were you to have the inclination to observe them, you would find they pass to and fro with food, only ceasing their labors at dawn. The young, as soon as they reach maturity, are abandoned by their parents; they quit the nest and seek out haunts elsewhere, while the old birds rear another, and not infrequently two more broods, during the remainder of the season.
The habits of the Long-Eared Owl are nocturnal. He is seldom seen in the light of day, and is greatly disturbed if he chance to issue from his concealment while the sun is above the horizon. The facial disk is very conspicuous in this species. It is said that the use of this circle is to collect the rays of light, and throw them upon the eye. The flight of the owl is softened by means of especially shaped, recurved feather-tips, so that he may noiselessly steal upon his prey, and the ear is also so shaped as to gather sounds from below.
The Long-Eared Owl is hardly tameable. The writer of this paragraph, when a boy, was the possessor, for more than a year, of a very fine specimen. We called him Judge. He was a monster, and of perfect plumage. Although he seemed to have some attachment to the children of the family who fed him, he would not permit himself to be handled by them or by any one in the slightest. Most of his time he spent in his cage, an immense affair, in which he was very comfortable. Occasionally he had a day in the barn with the rats and mice.
The owl is of great usefulness to gardener, agriculturist, and landowner alike, for there is not another bird of prey which is so great a destroyer of the enemies of vegetation.
Great Horned Owl LPZoo by Lee
We know not alway
Who are kings by day,
But the king of the night is the bold brown owl!
I wonder why the folks put my picture last in the book. It can’t be because they don’t like me, for I’m sure I never bother them. I don’t eat the farmer’s corn like the crow, and no one ever saw me quarrel with other birds.
Maybe it is because I can’t sing. Well, there are lots of good people that can’t sing, and so there are lots of good birds that can’t sing.
Did you ever see any other bird sit up as straight as I do? I couldn’t sit up so straight if I hadn’t such long, sharp claws to hold on with.
My home is in the woods. Here we owls build our nests—most always in hollow trees.
During the day I stay in the nest or sit on a limb. I don’t like day time for the light hurts my eyes, but when it begins to grow dark then I like to stir around. All night long I am wide awake and fly about getting food for my little hungry ones. They sleep most of the day and it keeps me busy nearly all night to find them enough to eat.
I just finished my night’s work when the man came to take my picture. It was getting light and I told him to go to a large stump on the edge of the woods and I would sit for my picture. So here I am. Don’t you think I look wise? How do you like my large eyes? If I could smile at you I would, but my face always looks sober. I have a great many cousins and if you really like my picture, I’ll have some of them talk to you next month. I don’t think any of them have such pretty feathers though. Just see if they have when they come.
Well, I must fly back to my perch in the old elm tree. Good-bye.
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) chicks – WikiC
In the hollow tree, in the old gray tower,
The spectral owl doth dwell;
Dull, hated, despised in the sunshine hour,
But at dusk he’s abroad and well!
Not a bird of the forest e’er mates with him;
All mock him outright by day;
But at night, when the woods grow still and dim,
The boldest will shrink away!
O! when the night falls, and roosts the fowl,
Then, then, is the reign of the Horned Owl!
And the owl hath a bride, who is fond and bold,
And loveth the wood’s deep gloom;
And, with eyes like the shine of the moonstone cold,
She awaiteth her ghastly groom.
Not a feather she moves, not a carol she sings,
As she waits in her tree so still,
But when her heart heareth his flapping wings,
She hoots out her welcome shrill!
O! when the moon shines, and dogs do howl,
Then, then, is the joy of the Horned Owl!
Mourn not for the owl, nor his gloomy plight!
The owl hath his share of good—
If a prisoner he be in the broad daylight,
He is lord in the dark greenwood!
Nor lonely the bird, nor his ghastly mate,
They are each unto each a pride;
Thrice fonder, perhaps, since a strange, dark fate
Hath rent them from all beside!
So, when the night falls, and dogs do howl,
Sing, Ho! for the reign of the Horned Owl!
We know not alway
Who are kings by day,
But the King of the Night is the bold Brown Owl!
Bryan W. Procter
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) by Bob-Nan
Our Owl friend is a Bird of the Bible also. Owls are mentioned in 8 to 9 verses in Scripture, depending on which version. The KJV has 8 “owl” and 1 “owls” mentioned. The “horned owl” is mentioned in several versions. They are also one of the Birds of Prey mentioned in the Bible.
The little owl, the great owl, the horned owl, (Deuteronomy 14:16 AMP)
The Great Horned Owls range in length from 18–27 in (46–69 cm) and have a wingspan of 40–60.5 in (101–153 cm); Females are larger than males, an average adult being 22 in (55 cm) long with a 49 in (124 cm) wingspan and weighing about 3.1 lbs (1400 g). Depending on subspecies, Great Horned Owls can weigh from 0.72 to 2.55 kg (1.6 to 5.6 lb). At present there are 14 subspecies.
Adults have large ear tufts, a reddish, brown or gray face and a white patch on the throat. The iris is yellow, except the amber-eyed South American Great Horned Owl (B. V. nacurutu). Its “horns” are neither ears nor horns, simply tufts of feathers. The underparts are light with brown barring; the upper parts are mottled brown. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons. There are individual and regional variations in color; birds from the sub-Arctic are a washed-out, light-buff color, while those from Central America can be a dark chocolate brown.
Their call is a low-pitched but loud ho-ho-hoo hoo hoo; sometimes it is only four syllables instead of five. The female’s call is higher and rises in pitch at the end of the call. Young owls make hissing or screeching sounds that are often confused with the calls of Barn Owls.
Great Horned Owl call by Jesse Fagan
Owls were given spectacular binocular vision allowing them to pinpoint prey and see in low light. The eyes of Great Horned Owls are nearly as large as those of humans and are immobile within their circular bone sockets. Instead of turning their eyes, they turn their heads. Therefore, their neck must be able to turn a full 270 degrees in order to see in other directions without moving its entire body.
An owl’s hearing is as good as – if not better than – its vision; they have better depth perception and better perception of sound elevation (up-down direction) than humans. This is due to owl ears not being placed in the same position on either side of their head: the right ear is typically set higher in the skull and at a slightly different angle. By tilting or turning its head until the sound is the same in each ear, an owl can pinpoint both the horizontal and vertical direction of a sound.
Closeup of Great Horned Owl toes and talons
Great Horned Owl Foot LPZoo by Lee
These birds hunt at night by waiting on a high perch and swooping down on prey. Prey can vary greatly based on opportunity. The predominant prey group are small to medium-sized mammals such as hares, rabbits (statistically the most regular prey, juvenile raccoons, rats, squirrels, mice, moles, voles, shrews, bats, armadillos, muskrats, weasels and gerbils. It is even a natural predator of prey two to three times heavier than itself such as porcupines, marmots and skunks. Birds also comprise a large portion of a Great Horned Owl’s diet, ranging in size from kinglets to Great Blue Herons. Waterbirds, especially coots and ducks, are hunted; even raptors, up to the size of Red-tailed Hawk and Snowy Owls, are sometimes taken. Regular avian prey includes woodpeckers, grouse, crows, pigeons, herons, gulls, quail, turkey and various passerines. Reptiles (to the size of young American alligators, amphibians, fish, crustaceans and even insects are only occasional prey. In addition, the Great Horned Owl will predate on domesticated cats and small or young dogs.
When the Lord has created these birds Hi also gave them 200–300 pounds per square inch of crushing power in their talons. An average adult human male has about 60 pounds per square inch in his hands. In northern regions, where larger prey that cannot be eaten quickly are most prevalent, they may let uneaten food freeze and then thaw it out later using their own body heat. They also tend to eat and regurgitate food in the same locations.
The article is titled the Long-eared Owl. Actually there really is a Long-eared Owl.
The above article is an article in the monthly serial for March 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.
And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. (Isaiah 34:13 KJV)
Dan and I went over to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa again today. I was wanting to check out my Christmas present of a new camera. Enjoying learning to use it and retaking a lot of photos of birds to compare the old ones with the new ones on this camera. (It is still a point-and-shoot, but it has an improved “program mode.” Dan is our good photographer.)
But when we entered the zoo, we were met by one of the zookeepers holding a beautiful Barred Owl. We had not encountered this Owl in our previous trips. While sharing some of the photos, I thought you might like to learn a little about them.
Face pale with dark concentric rings surrounding eye
The Spotted Owl is most similar, but can be separated with attention to its barred, not streaked, underpart coloration. Short-eared Owl is similar in size, but is not barred on the chest nor is as heavily streaked below, does not share the concentric rings in the facial disks, has yellow eyes and a dark bill, and is found in quite different habitat. Great Gray Owl is superficially similar, but much larger, gray rather than brown below, and has differently patterned underparts.”
Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee
“The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a large typical owl native to North America. It goes by many other names, including Eight Hooter, Rain Owl, Wood Owl, and Striped Owl, but is probably best known as the Hoot Owl based on its call.
The usual call is a series of eight accented hoots ending in oo-aw, with a downward pitch at the end. The most common mnemonic device for remembering the call is “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.” It is noisy in most seasons. When agitated, this species will make a buzzy, rasping hiss. While calls are most common at night, the birds do call during the day as well.” (Wikipedia)
Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZoo by Lee
Looking the other way. No, they cannot turn their heads all the way around. Notice also that this owl does not have ear tufts like some owls.
Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee – Side of head
“Breeding habitats are dense woods across Canada, the eastern United States, and south to Mexico;in recent years it has spread to the western United States. Recent studies show suburban neighborhoods can be ideal habitat for barred owls. Using transmitters, scientists found that populations increased faster in the suburban settings than in old growth forest. The main danger to owls in suburban settings is from cars. The increased offspring offset the death rate due to impacts from cars and disease.”
The Barred Owl’s nest is often in a tree cavity, often ones created by pileated woodpeckers; it may also take over an old nesting site made previously by a red-shouldered hawk, cooper’s hawk, crow, or squirrel. It is a permanent resident, but may wander after the nesting season. If a nest site has proved suitable in the past they will often reuse it as the birds are non-migratory. In the United States, eggs are laid from early-January in southern Florida to mid-April in northern Maine, and consist of 2 to 4 eggs per clutch. Eggs are brooded by the female with hatching taking place approximately 4 weeks later. Young owls fledge four to five weeks after hatching. These owls have few predators, but young, unwary owls may be taken by cats. The most significant predator of Barred Owls is the Great Horned Owl. The Barred Owl has been known to live up to 10 years in the wild and 23 years in captivity.” (Wikipedia)
Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) LPZ by Lee
“Owl” is mentioned 8 times in the King James Bible and “Owls” is mentioned 6 times. So that makes our friend here a “Bird of the Bible” and of course a “Bird of the World.” Owls are another of the Lord’s great creations.
It was a great birdwatching day at the Zoo. Cool, but the sun was bright and no clouds. I had some other great finds today, but will save them for later.
Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (captive) by Raymond Barlow
When I did the first Birds of the Bible – Owls back in March of 2008, this blog was only a month old. Wow! I have always enjoyed the video that I included in it and have placed it here for those who have not seen it. The Burrowing Owls would definitely qualify as Little Owls. Since that article, we have added great photographers, videographers and writers. Trust this article on just the “Little Owls” will be helpful and a blessing as we look into the Birds of the Bible.
The Little Owl is mentioned in Leviticus 11:17 and again in Deuteronomy 14:16. As you can see by the following list of verses, that it is translated as “little” in many of them. These two verses are from the list of unclean birds that the Israelites were not to eat. See Birds of the Bible – Clean vs. Unclean
And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, (Leviticus 11:17 KJV)
little owl,H3563… (Leviticus 11:17 KJV+)
H3563 gives this definition: כּוס, kôs, koce
From an unused root meaning to hold together; a cup (as a container), often figuratively a lot (as if a potion); also some unclean bird, probably an owl (perhaps from the cup like cavity of its eye): – cup, (small) owl. Compare H3599. (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries)
The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, (Deuteronomy 14:16 KJV)
The little owl,H3563… (Deuteronomy 14:16 KJV+) Same word used again.
Here are the results of searchs in e-Sword looking for “owl” or “owls” to find which ones used “little owl.” These are the different translations and only those two verses used “little owl.”
and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, (ASV)
And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, (AKJV)
And the little owl and the cormorant and the great owl; (BBE)
the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, (ESV)
little owls, cormorants, great owls, (GW)
and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl; (JPS)
And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, (KJV)
and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the eared owl; (LITV)
and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the eared owl; (MKJV)
and the little owl and the cormorant and the great owl, (NAS77)
and the little owl and the cormorant and the great owl, (NASB)
the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; (NKJV)
and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl; (RV)
And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, (Webster)
and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, (YLT)
Asian Barred Owlet (Glaucidium cuculoides) by Peter Ericsson
The little owl, the great owl, the horned owl, (AMP)
the little owl, and the great owl, and the horned owl, (ACV)
The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, (AKJV)
The little owl and the great owl and the water-hen; (BBE)
little owls, great owls, white owls, (ERV)
the little owl and the short-eared owl, the barn owl (ESV)
little owls, great owls, barn owls, (GW)
he little owl, the great owl, the horned owl, (ISV)
the little owl, and the great owl, and the horned owl; (JPS)
The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, (KJV)
the little owl, and the eared owl, and the barn owl, (LITV)
the little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, (MKJV)
the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, (NAS77)
the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, (NASB)
the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl, (NKJV)
the little owl, and the great owl, and the horned owl; (RV)
The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, (Webster)
the little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, (YLT)
Now that it is established that the “Little Owl” is a Bird of the Bible, what are some of the Little Owls that we can see today? What Order and Family do they belong? Let’s see what can be discovered.
To begin with, there are two Families of Owls in the Strigiformes Order. The Barn Owls, which are mentioned in the Bible, are in the Tytonidae Family and the rest of the Owls are in the Strigidae Family. That is where we will go to find the “little owls.” There are presently 206 species in the family, and they range from smallest (the smallest owls in the world; the Northern Pygmy Owl and the Elf Owl) to the largest Great Grey Owl (61 to 84 cm (24 to 33 in), averaging 72 cm (27 in) for females and 67 cm (26 in) for males.)
Little Owl (Athene noctua) by Nikhil Devasar
The Northern Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium californicum) and the Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi) would both be considered “little owls.”
There actually is a Little Owl (Athene noctua) which is resident in much of the temperate and warmer parts of Europe, Asia east to Korea, and north Africa. It is not native to Great Britain, but was first introduced in 1842,and is now naturalised there. It was also successfully introduced to the South Island of New Zealand in the early 20th century. The Little Owl is a small owl, 9-10.8 in (23-27.5 cm) in length. The adult Little Owl of the most widespread form, is white-speckled brown above, and brown-streaked white below. It has a large head, long legs, and yellow eyes, and its white “eyebrows” give it a stern expression. This species has a bounding flight like a woodpecker. The call is a querulous kee-ik. (Wikipedia)
Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) by Raymond Barlow
Our Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia), seen here in Florida, is 10 in tall and can be quite comical as this video shows. Their necks are quite limber.
The Elf Owl lives the cactus in a desert. The elf owl migrates to Arizona and New Mexico in the spring and summer. In the winter, it is found in central and southern Mexico. Elf Owls feed mainly on insects and therefore occupy habitats with a ready supply of these. Agaves and ocotillos are ideal places for foraging as moths and other insects may sleep in their flowers. Elf owls are known to eat scorpions, somehow managing to cut off the stinger. They are often seen chasing after flying insects.
The Northern Pigmy Owl is native to Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Pygmy owls are purportedly “sit-and-wait” predators, though they in fact hunt somewhat actively, moving from perch to perch with short flights, and pursuing prey at all levels of forest structure. They swoop down on prey; they may also catch insects in flight. They eat small mammals, birds and large insects, and may take a variety of other vertebrates and invertebrates. Mountain Pygmy Owls occasionally take prey species the same size or larger than themselves.
The other owl in the Athene genus are the Spotted Owlet (Athene brama). The Forest Owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti) is 9 in/23 cm.
Costa Rican Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium costaricanum) by Michael Woodruff
The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. (Isaiah 43:20-21 KJV)
We should all praise the Lord for the fantastic way He has created His birds.
The video below was to me as a link in an e-mail. It was posted by vurtrunner in Full HD High Speed. It is worth showing again here and especially since it is a Bird of the Bible. What an awesome shot. The way the feet open up at the last seconds amazed me. Another interesting thing is the way he is so steadfast and aims right for his target. Thanks, Pastor Pete, for sending the link.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV)
There are actually 15 Eagle-Owl in the world and the video did not say which one this one is. Looking at the photos I can find, most likely this is an Eurasian Eagle-Owl. The Eagle-Owls are the Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Indian, Pharaoh, Cape, Spotted, Greyish, Fraser’s, Usambara, Spot-bellied, Barred, Shelley’s, Verreaux’s, Dusky, Akun, and Philippine Eagle-Owl. They are in the Stringidae Family of the Strigiformes Order. Also, the Eagle-Owls are in the genus Bubo, which also included the horned owls (Snowy Owl, Great Horned Owl, Lesser Horned Owl) and one fish owl (Blakiston’s Fish Owl). “This genus, depending on definition, contains about one or two dozen species of typical owls (family Strigidae) and is found in many parts of the world. Some of the largest living Strigiformes are in Bubo. Traditionally, only owls with ear-tufts were included here, but that is no longer the case.” (Wikipedia)
The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. (Isaiah 43:20 KJV)
the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, (Leviticus 11:17-18 ESV)
and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the eared owl; and the barn owl, and the pelican, and the owl-vulture; (Leviticus 11:17-18 MKJV)
Australian Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae) by Wiki
The Lord has created another interesting and fantastic bird, the Barn Owl. The Owls are mentioned in the list of unclean birds the Israelites were not to eat. The Bible mentions several different kinds of owls and that is possibly why the taxonomists today divide them at least into two different families. Within those families, especially the larger one, Strigidae, the are different groupings. The Barn Owl family, Tytonidae, all seem to have this heart-shaped face you will read about and see. Some of the other Bible versions call it the “white owl.” Most of the ones I found photos of do have a white face or almost white face.
Barn-owls (family Tytonidae) are one of the two families of owls, the other being the true owls, Strigidae. Barn Owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long, strong legs with powerful talons. They also differ from Strigidae in structural details relating in particular to the sternum and feet.
Sulawesi Masked Owl (Tyto rosenbergii) by Wiki
The Barn Owl is a pale, long-winged, long-legged owl with a short squarish tail. Depending on subspecies, it measures about 25–45 cm (9.8–18 in) in overall length, with a wingspan of some 75–110 cm (30–43 in). Tail shape is a way of distinguishing the Barn Owl from true owls when seen in flight, as are the wavering motions and the open dangling feathered legs. The light face with its heart shape and the black eyes give the flying bird an odd and startling appearance, like a flat mask with oversized oblique black eyeslits, the ridge of feathers above the bill somewhat resembling a nose.[Wikipedia]
The barn-owls’ main characteristic is the heart-shaped facial disc, formed by stiff feathers which serve to amplify and locate the source of sounds when hunting. (See Calculating Owls below) Further adaptations in the wing feathers eliminate sound caused by flying, aiding both the hearing of the owl listening for hidden prey and keeping the prey unaware of the owl. Barn-owls overall are darker on the back than the front, usually an orange-brown colour, the front being a paler version of the back or mottled, although there is considerable variation even amongst species. The bay-owls closely resemble the Tyto owls but have a divided facial disc, ear tufts, and tend to be smaller.
On average, within any one population males tend to be less spotted on the underside than females. The latter are also larger, as is common for owls. A strong female Western Barn Owl of a large subspecies may weigh over 550 g (19.4 oz), while males are typically about 10% lighter. Nestlings are covered in white down all over, but the heart-shaped facial disk is visible soon after hatching.
the little owl and the short-eared owl, the barn owl (Deuteronomy 14:16 ESV)
Western Barn Owl (Tyto alba) by Nikhil Devassar
Its head and upperparts are a mixture of buff and grey (especially on the forehead and back) feathers in most subspecies. Some are purer richer brown instead, and all have fine black-and-white speckles except on the remiges and rectrices, which are light brown with darker bands. The heart-shaped face is usually bright white, but in some subspecies it is browner. The underparts vary from white to reddish buff among the subspecies, and are either mostly unpatterned or bear a varying amount of tiny blackish-brown speckles. It was found that at least in the continental European populations, females with more spotting are healthier on average. This does not hold true for European males by contrast, where the spotting varies according to subspecies. The bill varies from pale horn to dark buff, corresponding to the general plumage hue. The iris is blackish brown. The toes, as the bill, vary in color; their color ranges from pinkish to dark pinkish-grey. The talons are black.
African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis) by Wiki
The barn owls are a wide ranging family, absent only from northern North America, Saharan Africa and large areas of Asia. They live in a wide range of habitats from deserts to forests, and from temperate latitudes to the tropics. The majority of the 16 living species of barn owls are poorly known. Some, like the (Madagascar) Red Owl, have barely been seen or studied since their discovery, in contrast to the Common Barn Owl, which is one of the best known owl species in the world. However, some sub-species of the Common Barn Owl possibly deserve to be a separate species, but are very poorly known.
Contrary to popular belief, it does not hoot (such calls are made by typical owls, like the Tawny Owl or other Strix). It instead produces the characteristic shree scream, ear-shattering at close range. Males in courtship give a shrill twitter. It can hiss like a snake to scare away intruders, and when captured or cornered, it throws itself on its back and flails with sharp-taloned feet, making for an effective defense. Also given in such situations is a rasp and a clicking snap, produced by the bill or possibly the tongue.
Barn Owl clicks and call from xeno.canto.org
Couldn’t pass up the opportunity for some verse of the “heart.”
I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. (Psalms 9:1 KJV)
LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: (Psalms 10:17 KJV)
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalms 19:14 KJV)
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
(Psalms 27:14 KJV)
Southern Boobook ( Ninox boobook) by Ian Montgomery
Here’s one for the lovers of owls – which, I imagine, includes almost everybody. This is the commonest and most widespread owl in Australia, and its plaintive ‘boobook’ or ‘morepork’ call is a familiar sound in a huge range of habitats from tropical rainforest, through leafy suburbs and city parks to almost treeless regions of the dry interior. Despite both its abundance and lots of effort on my part, it has eluded my camera since, as a graduate student, I took some slide photos of one through a window of the Zoology Department of Sydney University in the mid 1970s.
Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook) by Ian Montgomery
This weekend just past was the occasion of the AGM of Birds Australia North Queensland and it was held at a large cattle station (property) called Trafalgar about 50km southwest of Charters Towers outside Townsville. We went spotlighting in the station truck, ideally equipped for birding safari-style with two bench seats placed longitudinally back-to-back on the rear, on a clear Sunday night and after finding a rather flighty barn owl, we encountered a Boobook in a tree beside the road that was much more cooperative. Having photographed it from the truck, I eventually got down and set up the tripod much closer to the the owl. It stayed put, despite my flash and 3 spotlights and when we finally left, it was still there. The portrait in the first photo is in fact cropped from a photo that includes the whole bird, so you can appreciate that the conditions for photography were excellent.
Later we found a Tawny Frogmouth, also a willing subject, and on the road itself, a suicidal young Owlet-Nightjar – nearly got run over – which let me approach it so closely that I could no longer focus with my 500mm lens (minimum focusing distance 4.5m/15ft). The consensus seemed to be that it was the best night’s spotlighting ever. The clear sky with no light pollution meant that we could see both the Southern Cross and the Big Dipper/Plough simultaneously, and on the way back a just-past-full moon rose in the east.
The Boobook is a smallish owl ranging in size from 25-28cm/10-11in for males and 30-36cm/12-14in for females. This one seemed relatively large to me, so it was probably female. The current taxonomic treatment is to treat as a single species the various boobooks in Australia, New Zealand, southern New Guinea, Timor and some islands of eastern Indonesia. This leaves only the Sumba Boobook (Sumba is west of Timor) as a separate species, so there isn’t a ‘Northern’ Boobook as such.