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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Short-eared Owl in flight

Ever since discovering several Short-eared Owls at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in early December, several of us have returned to the airport throughout the winter, not only to score a county tick, but also to see how long the birds were spending on site. I have not had the chance to visit at dusk since December. That is, until 2 April, when I made sure to visit the s. Kraft access lot to check on the birds. My expectation was that wintering Short-eareds would likely leave their winter quarters by mid to late March (Long-eareds in s. MI leave on this time frame), and I wasn't really expecting to get the bird. However, right at dusk I was happily surprised to see at least 1 Short-eared patrolling low over the runways, straight out from the overlook. Birds such as this in low light are usually very difficult to photograph, but I have become more and more a proponent of video mode in such conditions, which does an admirable job of capturing the subject. Here is what I was able to capture of the 1 definite Short-eared I saw (I saw another Asio sp. too far to identify to species):

Youtube link

It will be interesting to see when these last few birds leave. (Aside: it should be mentioned that it is conceivable that the birds I saw on April 2nd were not of the wintering group, but were spring migrants which wintered further south and were stopping over on their northward migration, though I think this is less likely the explanation).

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