The short-eared owls of Boundary Bay - Birds and Bark
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A short-eared owl perched on a fence post.

The short-eared owls of Boundary Bay

I traveled from Nanaimo to Boundary Bay (in Delta, B.C.) twice this winter to photograph owls. Within an hour-and-a-half of my first trip, I photographed my first snowy owl. On my second trip, I photographed a barn owl and a long-eared owl for the first time. However, on both trips, I spent most of my time photographing the abundance of short-eared owls that migrate to Boundary Bay each winter.

 

While a small number of short-eared owls migrate to the Nanaimo area as well, it can be tough to get within a thousand feet of them. At Boundary Bay, as I quickly found out, short-eared owls regularly fly and perch close to humans, making the area a photographer’s dream. Below, I’ve categorized my photos and videos by the variety of behaviors I observed.

Flight

A short-eared owl prepares for flight.

Launch.

A short-eared owl takes off from a log.

Liftoff.

A short-eared owl glides in search of food.

Gliding in search of voles.

Preening

 

Shaking

Every so often, a short-eared owl would shake its feathers and turn into a fluff ball.

 

A short-eared owl shakes its feathers.

Soaking up the sun.

 

A short-eared owl shakes it feathers from a perch.

Short-eared owls range from 13 to 17 inches in length.

 

Vocalizing

Short-eared owls are not particularly vocal birds. On my second trip to Boundary Bay, I witnessed their call for the first time—a mix between a screeching hawk and a barking dog.

 

 

A squawking short-eared.

Eating

I only saw a short-eared owl with prey once and, unfortunately, it was hidden behind long grass. Though, by standing on the tips of my toes, I managed to get the shot below.

 

A short-eared owl eating a vole.

Look closely to see the remains of a vole pinned under the short-eared’s foot and the vole’s insides hanging on a blade of grass.

The End

Unlike most owls, short-eared’s are highly active during the day, making them one of the easier owls to see. If you haven’t had much luck seeing owls before, I highly encourage a trip to Boundary Bay (or reading my guide on how to find barred owls in Nanaimo).

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