A friend wanted to go up to Sax-Zim Bog. He had heard about all the Northern Hawk Owls which normally is a rare bird. Looking at the advanced weather forecast I said Thursday! Although I knew today would be cold, it also was forecasted to have decent light and low winds. While sunny skies mean Great Gray Owls retreat into the heavy forest shortly after sunrise, Northern Hawk Owls do not care about light.
Thus, our plan was to arrive 20 minutes before sunup and look for owls, and ignore any hawk owls we saw. This plan worked perfectly and within a few minutes we have found two great grays, one of which was very cooperative in terms of hunting for us … catching two voles in the waning moments of the night. As expected, 20 minutes after sunrise the Great Gray said good-bye to us and retreated into the deep Bog.
We then shifted our efforts over to the hawk owls (we saw three unique individuals) and enjoyed their hunting efforts. However, one thing cool about Hawk Owls is they often perch on the highest tree in the vicinity. Without exception this always means the owl will get attacked by some local birds. Just set up shot and wait. Here are some of my efforts from today.
A Pileated Woodpecker … taking a break between attacking the owl
Pileated and Northern Hawk Owl
Great Gray before Sunrise
A few more Northern Hawk Owl Images
Yesterday I drove up to Sax-Zim Bog arriving before sunrise. Knowing that the weekend would bring out lots of folks to view the hawk owl (most welcome), but not desiring to be part of the huge crowd I hiked into a different area of the bog where I had heard reports of another Northern Hawk Owl. It was good I was there before sunup because this individual stopped hunting the minute the golden orb popped above the horizon.
However, it was not time for all the other birds to have breakfast, and many were NOT please to the the owl in vicinity. Over the course of 20 minutes, the Northern Hawk Owl attracted quite a bit of attention, or should I say attacks? Thus … owl candy which the other birds could not resist!
Each of these birds took a swipe at the owl, but ultimately grew bored and moved on leaving the owl in peace to enjoy the warmth of the morning sun. The easiest way to bird in the Bog, find an owl and wait for the other birds to attack! 🙂
Gray Jay and Norther Hawk Owl
Female Pine Grosbeak
Sax-Zim Bog has turned on!
I was scheduled for volunteer training at the Welcome Center this morning to get ready for our winter season. Given our training did not start till 10:00 am, I drove the 50 miles over from Duluth early enough to arrive slightly before sunrise at 7:30 am.
Wow, and I repeat wow! How else can one describe a crystal clear morning when one finds both a Northern Hawk Owl and a Great Gray Owl within 300 yards of each other before sunrise. Given I knew the northern hawk owl would hunt well into the day, but the Great Gray Owl would retreat deep into the Bog once it started to get light, I ignored the hawk owl at first. Given the NHO is my favorite bird this decision was difficult. However, it was the correct move as the Great Gray did disappear into the deep Bog about 20 minutes after sunup while the Northern Hawk Owl was still hunting when I left for my training at 9:45 am
McDavitt Road is the location of all my fun … near the small parking area on the west side of the road. Both late yesterday and this morning I saw both owls plus or minus 500 yards from this pull out. Here are some pics … yesterday evening was cloudy and gloomy … this morning was bright and sunny.
Northern Hawk Owl Hunting Sequence (total time duration … about 30 seconds … I was not able to record the actual kill as the NHO captured the vole behind some tall trail grass)
Great Gray Owl Before Sunrise this Morning
Northern Hawk Owl After the Hunt
A few pics from late yesterday afternoon …