The Agile Fox Friday Foto – 05.04.2012

After a year and a half of including a ‘pic of the week’ at the end of my weekly training summary, I’ve decided to let it stand on its own.  I’m also implementing a rule that the Friday Foto needs to have been taken sometime in the last week.  No recycling.  I am doing this to keep me engaged in building my photography skills, and to make me work harder to get fresh shots.  Click here to see my previous Friday Foto posts.

A Great Horned Owl has taken up residence on the dentist office sign in our neighborhood shopping center. I was interested to learn from the Wiki article that they are also called Tiger Owls.  Hadn’t heard that one before, but it makes sense considering their markings.  Females are larger than males and can weigh over five pounds and have a four foot wingspan.  That’s a big bird!

Some other interesting Wiki tidbits:

  • They are amongst the world’s most adaptable owls in terms of habitat.
  • They prefer areas where open habitat which they often hunt in, and woods where they tend to roost and nest, are juxtaposed.  Thus rural regions can be ideal.
  • All mated Great Horned Owls are permanent residents of their territories, but unmated and younger birds move freely in search of company and a territory.
  • Owls have spectacular binocular vision allowing them to pinpoint prey and see in low light. The eyes of Great Horned Owls are nearly as large as those of humans and are immobile within their circular bone sockets. Instead of turning their eyes, they turn their heads. Therefore, their neck must be able to turn a full 270 degrees in order to see in other directions without moving its entire body.
  • An owl’s hearing is as good as – if not better than – its vision; they have better depth perceptionand better perception of sound elevation (up-down direction) than humans. This is due to owl ears not being placed in the same position on either side of their head: the right ear is typically set higher in the skull and at a slightly different angle. By tilting or turning its head until the sound is the same in each ear, an owl can pinpoint both the horizontal and vertical direction of a sound.
  • These birds also have 200–300 pounds per square inch of crushing power in their talons. An average adult human male has about 60 pounds per square inch in his hands.
  • Young owls move onto nearby branches at 6 weeks and start to fly about a week later.

Take a look at the list of prey – they are definitely opportunists!

Hares, rabbits, juvenile raccoons, rats, squirrels, mice, moles, voles, shrews, bats, armadillos, muskrats, weasels, gerbils, porcupines, marmots, skunks, birds ranging in size from kinglets to Great Blue Herons, waterbirds – especially coots and ducks, raptors – up to the size of Red-tailed Hawk and Snowy Owls, woodpeckers, grouse, crows, pigeons, herons, gulls, quail, turkey, reptiles – to the size of young American alligators, amphibians, fish, crustaceans, insects, domesticated cats, and small dogs.

I didn’t have a lot to work with in terms of composition for this one, pretty much had to take what I could get.  When we first showed up, the nestlings were laying low behind the sign and weren’t even visible.  I stood on a rock to get just a little more height and was zoomed to the max @ 300mm. I shot for around 20 minutes, trying to get a decent one of all 3 in the frame without much luck.  Then Jessica saved the day by calling out a perfect ‘hoooo, hooo’ that got the attention of the one on the right.  I love its expression as it looked to see where the sound was coming from.


Roxborough Owls
1/160 @ f/5.6, ISO 200

Posted on May 4, 2012, in photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This is a great post! =)

  2. mtnrunner2

    Great photo, and I’m glad I’m not a rabbit.

    I often hear owls, but rarely see them. Last week I had a big one fly off a fence post near the Bear Creek golf course as I ran by on a trail, but it was just a silhouette at dusk.

    • Agreed on the rabbit. Not a fun way to go, I suspect…

      I ran by one (that I hadn’t noticed) at night when it started hacking up a pellet. That was a strange sound out of nowhere!

      I also know a guy that got attacked by one while running – this is how he told it:

      “i was literally attacked by a massive owl this morning while running roads, at about 430 a.m. Attacked me from behind, on the head. Twice. I am lucky as all hell that i was not mangled. And luckily the talons did not break my skin. The force of his first blow to the back of my head nearly knocked me down. Didn’t even hear it coming. Freaky!”

      He’s small and fast, though. Probably easily mistaken for a prey animal. I’m big and slow so I don’t have that problem.

  3. That is a cool shot.

    I bet if owls worked in packs, they could take down a lot of runners.

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