This gallery contains 4 photos. On a rainy and overcast November 13, our backyard was graced with the presence of a sleepy female Great Horned Owl. I have heard owls in the night, but this was the first time in the day that one had actually paid a visit to the backyard. The racket raised by a murder of Northwestern Crows (the Great Horned Owl is their mortal enemy) immediately telegraphed her presence.
Great Horned Owls of the Pacific Northwest are dark, which is great camouflage in the trees
f/8, 1/10, ISO 800, 500mm
No fewer than nine Northwestern Crows harangued her for almost 3 hours with cawing of such loudness and frequency that made it seem like the end of the world was nigh. They would get within a few inches of this nocturnal hunter and largest (by weight) North American owl to give her an earful (and owls have amazingly good (and sensitive) hearing) and even fly by, fly over, and brush her with their wings in repeated attempts to get her to leave her perch on the 100-foot Douglas Fir in the neighbor’s backyard. They would then fly away for a few minutes, and then return to redouble efforts to banish her from their territory.
how can one get any sleep with these annoyances?
f/6.3, 1/80, ISO 2000, 500mm
Despite all this harassment, she would merely (and silently) stare at them with her enigmatic golden eyes; she would not budge from her position, and she made no threat displays towards her attackers with wings, talons, or beak. I daresay that, at times, she even appeared to be bored with their antics. Perhaps she knew that she would be wasting heat and energy by doing so. Finally, after three hours, they packed it in and left, and this fluffed up female Great Horned Owl finally got her beauty sleep in the afternoon. I was able to walk right underneath her (she was still 15-20 feet above my head) and watch her snoozing. Perhaps she was dreaming of crow for that night’s dinner!
a Great Horned Owl was the last bird this Red-Breasted Nuthatch expected to see here!
f/8, 1/13, ISO 800, 500mm
The regular troupe of backyard birds continued to go about their regular daily business at the assorted bird feeders in the yard; some stalwart souls, like a Red-Breasted Nuthatch and a juvenile Anna’s Hummingbird, even went so far as to investigate this dozing giant. All shots were taken from 50 feet away.
an Anna’s hummingbird flies up to investigate the intruder (offering a size comparison of both)
f/8, 1/10, ISO 800, 500mm
Learn more about the Great Horned Owl by visiting its Cornell Lab of Ornithology allaboutbirds.org profile here.