How to Find an Owl in the Woods

How do you find an owl in the wild? Actually in my case the owl found me. I was hiking through the woods, which I have been doing a lot of lately on a lot of different trails, when an owl flew right over my shoulder coming from behind me. I have repeated found owls since so I will give you some of my tips.

The owl flying over my shoulder peaked my interest so I kept looking in the areas I hike. Look for an old growth forest with lots of older, thick trunked trees. If they have holes in them, this may be a forest to find some owls. Sometimes they take over nests of hawks, but others times they may nest in a tree hole.

Sometimes I have caught them by seeing movement through the woods. It was a parent hunting. They may fly from a tree to the ground, or from a tree to another tree. The breakfast of champions for owlets seems to be chipmunks. It may be because there are so many of them, or the fact they at times make a lot of noise thereby identifying themselves.

Most of the time barred owls I found do not make the typical “Who cooks for you?” call that is ascribed to them. I have heard a lot of other calls and sounds I have not heard on recordings. If you find them listen to the noise they make and try to remember it as it may help you locate them the next time.

Baby after fledging the nest.

A babies make a weak screech sound when hungry and calling for food. They may do this in early morning or early evening. If you find babies, commit the sound to memory. It will help you locate them in the future.

This appears to be an owlet as well.

If you are quiet and aware you have a better chance of finding them. You will have more luck if you do not bring a dog with you. You will have more luck if you go by yourself or have a friend who agrees to be quiet while searching. Don’t have your phone sounds on. If you are preoccupied you may not hear them. If your sounds are on they may stay quiet. You have to be aware of your surroundings and listen to the sounds of the woods.

Two siblings just hanging out. The third one is an outlier. He is always nearby, but usually hiding behind branches.

Sometimes other birds announce the parent owl’s whereabouts. I have seen bluejays going crazy loudly complaining and followed the sounds to find the parent owl. Sometimes that has led me to the owlets. I have not seen them harass the owlets in this manner, just the parents.

Sibling love

After the owlets fledge, the parents and owlets move around to different areas each day I have found. Expand the region you search in around the nest to locate them.

Close to feeding time at least one of the parents would be nearby.

Parents would sometimes be nearby after they fledged, other times not. If you hear a hoot, check it out. They may be calling their mate or their young. You can not always count on them being nearby, unless it is feeding time.

The main advice I have to give is be quiet and respect nature. Do not get too close. Keep a respectful distance. Don’t tell too many people, as they will tell some etc. and the owls may leave and not return. I have heard one story of a whole group of photographers walking through the forest everyday following the owls around and the pair left, never to return. So enjoy nature, but respect nature!

Owlets

Do you like surprises? It depends on what it is I guess. For almost week I saw one baby owl in the tree hole, so I thought there was only one. However, one day I arrived one was in a neighboring tree having most likely fledged that day, and one was looking out the hole. Later, another head popped next to the owl in the hole. So all in all there were three owlets.

It was a suprise to see another head pop out.
The second one fledged and hung around the nesting tree. One left to go. It took him another two days before he flew out of the nest.
I think he was trying to figure out what to do next. Or maybe he was waiting for his sibling.

Seeing three owlets was definitely a surprise and a good one at that. Be quiet on your walks through the woods. It is amazing what you can witness.

Self- Isolating Barred Owl

I have always wanted to see an owl in the wild. This past week or so I got my chance. I have caught sight of one each day on a walking trail in a nearby park. I wasn’t sure which kind of owl it was, so I asked my birding friends. The conclusion was a barred owl. The call I have been hearing was not the typical call a few days into finding them. The ones I have sighted use a different call.

Barreds owl have brown eyes and a small yellow beak. It is named after the bars on its chest.They have no ear tufts.

Standing at attention, but more likely stretching his legs.

Barred owls live in older growth forests where they have a better chance of nesting in a tree cavity. This park has lots of trees that fit that category. They also like to be near water. This park is on the Hudson River in New York. They will take over nests of other birds though as well.

Yawning or craving dinner?
Sun-bathing

I am so happy I had the chance to see an adult and the baby owl. The who-oo of a parent led me to see them and the baby. I kept a respectful distance. While you enjoy nature, be quiet and be observant, you never know what you will see.

Self Isolation- Great Egret

Have you ever had bad lighting conditions, but thought it may be your only chance to capture something? This was one of these times. Luckily, I am still employed. Morning light in this area separated from the river by the Metro North Railroad tracks would be optimal as it would be behind you. Late afternoon light is not good in this area. This is the first time I have seen one of these. I am sure they are quite numerous, but others times I have been to this location I have not seen this solitary bird including the following days.

It caught several fish while I was there.
Bon appetit!

This is the great egret or sometimes it is known as a white heron. I thought it was a heron, but a few people passing by said no, but they did not call it an egret either. I will admit I am not a bird expert. I have trouble differentiating different kinds of hawks. It kept a distance, these photos were taken from quite a distance, but it pretty much ignored me and other hikers.

Maybe someday I will find this bird again with better conditions. We can always hope. Stay safe and stay healthy! Surround yourself with positive things. Go out in nature.

Caught a Fish

It has been raining a lot in New York. I have been working from home. Mornings, which are the best time to go out and view these birds of prey, have been out. Many times on the weekend, like tomorrow, the weather will be bad. Sometimes I am able to go down after work and view for a half hour or an hour. I have not seen them bring in a fish this Spring. Normally I spend my Easter Break watching this nest, but our break was taken away from us. These pictures were on one of those not so great weather days around 6 p.m. Although the lighting is far from optimal, I feel lucky to have seen this eagle bring one in from the Hudson River. Enjoy the parks! Enjoy wildlife!

They have one eaglet in the nest. So I don’t see them bring fish in as much as last year.

Tale of Two Nests

A few decades ago there was only one nesting pair of eagles in the New York. Today there are close to 500. Environmental policies banning DDT enabled this increase.

This first nest is along a major commuting highway that takes many drivers to New York City. They allowed us in to work for a little while on one day so I stopped briefly on my return. These first pictures are taken from the shoulder of the highway.

When the leaves are off the trees this nest is viewable as you are traveling south on the highway. It is on land that juts out into a lake. Since one parent seems to linger a lot in the nest I assume there may be a young one.
One parent briefly joined the other on a nearby tree.
It is the other one’s turn to sit in the nest.

This second nest is next to the Hudson River south of me. If you are lucky as I was today you will catch one of the eagles on a tree near the hiking trail in the woods as I did. The nest is too far away and more protected for some reason than the other nests are that are in parklands.

This pair’s nest is a few miles south of me next tot the Hudson River. You can not get near the nest, but I was able to see them perched on a tree together briefly near a hiking trail. They did not leave the nest unattended for long, so I assume this nest may have young ones as well.
This one was vocal.

It is good to see the population thriving in recent years. The Hudson River seems to draw them to build their nests. If the weather is nice next weekend I hope to see another local nest I have heard about. Stay safe and stay healthy.

Eagle Baby in the Nest

What do you call a baby eagle? An eaglet. Last year my favorite nest to watch had two eaglets. This year I am seeing only one head at a given time.

Luckily this nest still seems deep. It has high enough sides to keep the eaglet safe inside.

It has rained a lot. I did get a chance this past weekend to watch the nest near the Hudson River in New York for a little while. I finally saw the head pop out. I only saw one. I will have to ask the retired people who hang out there all day if they have seen more than that.

The parents took turns watching over the eaglet. A week ago a hawk was trying to get in the nest and the father eagle chased it away.

Parent coming in to rotate babysitting duties.

Unfortunately, as it usually does in April, it has rained a lot. That makes it hard to view the nest on the steep side of a hill. The window to view it is also rapidly closing with buds on the trees turning into leaves. More excitement awaits around June, when we may see the eaglet flying around near the nest.

Self Isolating in the Wild: Do Hawks eat Eagles?

Do birds eat other birds? Would a hawk eat an eagle? I know birds will eat other birds. I am still not sure I know the answer to the second question.

Mother eagle was sitting in the next with the young baby eagle (maybe a week or two after it hatched). Along came a hawk circling over head then proceeded to buzz around the nest. As he got near the nest the mother eagle started loudly screeching.

The hawk is doing a fly over. The mother eagle’s white head is just visible a tad in the bottom center of this photo near the tree trunk. The eagle’s nest is at the bottom center of the photo.

Arriving quickly was the father eagle. Father eagle chased the hawk away then proceeded to sit on a neighboring tree. After a while, the hawk returned and the father eagle chased him away again. Father eagle hung out for a while for good measure, then flew away.

Arrived to help protect the nest.
Father eagle chasing the hawk away from the nest.
Standing watch
Coast is clear so off to go fishing

I have seen videos online of eagles defending the nest. One shows an eagle killing and eating a hawk that attacked. Eagles and hawks it seems are natural enemies. Will an hawk eat a baby eagle? Will it just try to kill it? Do you know the answer?

Self Isolating- Backyard Wildlife

Name the Critter

Very colorful bird that came in a group.
This guy came in and left and I did not see him again.
It looks like he has yellow eyebrows. When the cardinals and jays were afraid to be around he just hung out unfazed by it all.
A group of these hung out near the ground a lot. I was kind of surprised with all the interested cats in the area.
They trapped and released elsewhere these animals, but did not get all of them.
This one and his family live inside a tree, which is a smart idea given hawks and eagles fly over. I have seen eagles fly to their nests with these animals.
I find it hard to capture the male and female. As soon as they see me at the window they fly off.

I am working from home. I am happy to still have a job. I wish I could be out walking, but the weather has not cooperated anyways. Stay safe and stay happy everyone!

Self Isolating in the Wild-Eagle Watching

What travel restrictions do we currently have in New York? They want us to stay at home as much as possible and only go out for essential items like food, business at home related purchases, pharmacy trips, and we are also allowed to go to parks and wildlife refuges to exercise. I decided to see if I could catch the eagles after working at home a couple of days ago.

These eagles live quite close to me. In fact there are more and more nests near me. I found another one near a walking trail this week. However, for some reason they restrict the land around the nest of that one more than any of the others. Out of respect for what they ask I did not get close to that nest. The pictures below show one nest one afternoon in order.

One parent in the nest. At least one egg has hatched. The parent keeps looking down and appears to feed little bits of food to an unseen youngster. So the guesstimate is the youngster hatched in the past week or so. We won’t know how many babies until they are big enough to see the heads popping above the top of the nest.
The other parent arrives to switch places babysitting.
The parent who had been in the nest flew out to a neighboring tree for a bit. Then decided to fly off.
Lift off!!!
The eagle then flies off towards the Hudson River. Possibly it was on its way to get a fish for the family.

It is always fun to watch the eagles after the babies hatch. There is a lot more activity coming and going from the nest. They bring in more grass, and they bring in fish or other land animals like squirrel. If you are working at home and self isolating, go out to observe nature. It can bring joy to your day.