Short-Eared OwlDec. 31, 2007

Sue and I were walking through a forested section of the Toftree game land when I noticed a bird soaring. I assumed it was a light-colored hawk, most probably a male harrier.

It wasn't until I examined the photo at home that I realized that it wasn't a harrier, that the wing pattern was "wrong." What did that leave? None of the field guides I have at home had a good match for that type of hawk.

I examined the photo some more. The face of the raptor looked "squashed." Could it be an odd angle of the photograph, or could it be an owl? I was ready to send the photo off to the State College Bird List when Sue found a match on the web: a short-eared owl.

Short-eared owl in flight
  Normally I prefer to have a multiple of images for any bird on my pages, but I only had time for two photos before I lost the owl behind trees (and the photo above is clearer). I thought I'd make an exception to my multiple principle, since it's my first owl photo in the wild.

Photo note: I used a Pentax *ist D, with the SMC 1000mm reflex lens (handheld), for the photo. Within the same minute, a rough-legged hawk flew into view. Two unusual sightings during the same minute on the same day, Dec. 15, 2007!

My Pennsylvania bird list

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