Out of Sight

I continue to hear the calls of the juvenile Great Horned Owls every night… This has been so reassuring after the “summer of silence” last year. I continue to open windows and smile into the dark black night, imagining them in my mind.

For years now, as I took photo after photo after photo of the owls — roosting on a branch in the afternoon, grooming, hunting, incubating and feeding their young, learning to fly — I knew not to take it for granted. I was acutely aware of how precious and unique the opportunities were and I made the most of them. That being said, I suppose I hadn’t considered how hard it might be to find an owl to photograph now that they’ve moved their nest further afield. It can’t be too far away, but as I don’t know where the nest is exactly, finding an owl to view or photograph in the daytime is no longer as easy as simply scanning the large trees directly around our cabin. I do see them occasionally when we drive the road at night — silent, dark shapes flying across the sky. But I confess that I miss seeing their yellow eyes, their impressive talons gripping a branch, or the delicate tufts of feathers that constitute their “ears”. I decided to check my photo files to see when the last time I had the opportunity to photograph one and was surprised to find that it was as long ago as November of last year. Here’s the photo:

Great Horned Owl, most recent photo

Sometimes I take what I call “record shots”. For me, that means a photo that is simply meant to record the existence of something in my area, or perhaps to record a notable date or significant sighting for something. My intent is not necessarily to create a photo anyone else would want to see… just to take a mental snapshot (a “screen capture”, if you will) of what I am seeing.

Oddly, I can remember that when I took this photo, it was meant to be a record shot. At that point, we were still seeing the adult owls around the property and there wasn’t really anything notable about this particular sighting. But, perhaps I intuitively sensed their impending move as something compelled me to record this (at that point) fairly common occurrence of looking up and seeing a roosting owl. Well… in any event, I’m happy that I took the photo when I did. Also, I’ve decided to try harder to locate where the owls are currently spending their days so that I might get the opportunity to see them once again. Wish me luck!


Harsi / August 7, 2011 / birds


  1. Cindy - August 8, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

    I remember how very much you enjoyed your local owl tribe, it is always such an honor to share any space with them. While I rarely get a glimpse of our Great Horneds, Barreds, Screech or N. Saw-whets, hearing the other-worldly sounds of the juveniles begging while I’m out at the moth sheets, or hearing the adults’ wild ‘monkey calls’ when they get excited is a gift in itself. Nothing gets my adrenaline up quite as much as the sight/sound of an owl. I enjoy record shots, most of mine are.. thankfully I have a few too many of them to remember certain magical moments. Good luck re-finding your feathered friends. I always figure I will if I’m meant to, and not a day sooner 🙂

  2. Harsi - August 8, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

    Cindy… I was just thinking about you yesterday and your time with the owls out at the moth sheets! How strange… Well, maybe not so strange after all, as I’m quite aware that you too feel a deep thrill at hearing and seeing these amazing birds. I know what you mean about having a few too many record shots. Ha ha ha! That is one of the definite benefits of regularly doing these blog posts… At least for a small fraction of my images, I have adequate written memories to accompany them. Thank you for wishing me the best in my quest to re-locate the owls! I’ll be certain to post any updates here.


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