Saw A Needle In A Haystack! ‘Bird Is The Word’ Blog #73! Two winters ago I was desperately searching for winter finches like Red and White-winged Crossbills. I’d go down by the beach dunes and I’d comb through the pine trees. Hoping for a sound or a movement to tip me off to their presence. I knew I was canvassing the same habitat that could uncover a Northern Saw-whet Owl but I really wasn’t feeling too confident that I’d find one. It’s funny when you search for new birds as sometimes the guides and things don’t really get across the size of the bird. I had read the Northern Saw-Whet Owl’s are not much bigger than a typical human hand. Pocket Owls, I like to call them.
Hard to believe these little predators equipped with sharp talons, a very capable beak and a facial disc to assist them in hearing the tiniest of noises are actually a real thing. The image of large majestic Owls like the Snowy Owl or the Great Horned Owl have a stark contrast from the ‘Pocket Owls” like the Saw-whet and the Screech Owl. Both are quite cool to be sure!
Two years ago a Northern Saw-whet Owl was in the cards for me when I turned a corner on a pine tree and saw two golden eyes looking back at me I was just like “No Way!!” What a piece of luck! It made me almost take for granted that I’d see one last year too, but that was a no go even with multiple times checking that same habitat. Here’s a few pics of the Northern Saw-whet Owl from two winters ago, they may be familiar to those who have followed this blog:
This Owl seemed comfortable enough to have me around, however there was no angle to really get a great photo. I love the first photo even though it’s only half of it’s face. That was basically the only photo that wasn’t completely obscured by the pine needles.
So fast forward to the other day, back at the scene of the first sighting and I’m looking really hard trying to find another Saw-whet. A friend has been trying to find one and I’ve been searching even more than usual hoping to locate one for her! Scoping out the pine tree scene I am finding nothing. Considering giving up for the day I try another area that I don’t often go. There are a few Dark-eyed Junco’s around but I’m not seeing any owls. It really is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. These small birds are roosting silently, hiding in plain sight. Am I looking hard enough? Am I trying to hard? Am I staring right at one but somehow still blind to it? Here’s an example,to test your skills and see if you can find the Owl:
It’s right there, to the left of the main vertical part of the tree, pretty much right in the middle of the tree!
Originally it was seen from the head on angle and not much was showing. It was a miracle to actually spot it! I believe a Dark-eyed Junco came across it and movement was noticed as the Junco flew out of that tree, luckily giving away the Owl’s location! Here’s a few shots from the initial sighting!
I then popped a squat in the sand, sitting on dried pine needles and backed up against the next tree but achieving a clear view to the Owl while keeping a respectful distance. Just like the first Saw-whet experience, this situation was the same in that these birds are pretty chill about human presence, and it would be unforgivable to break that trust by getting too close or too aggressive. This time my luck was a little better as far as pine needles being in the way! Here’s some video < sawwhet > and some photo’s:
It was fascinating and amazing finding this bird and sitting with it for a bit! I made a call to share it with my friend who has been hoping to find one but she was out of town so that was not ideal! It would have been cool to share it with her 🙁 Before leaving I tried one more angle which didn’t work out too well, but captured these two images which are kinda fun! Then I waved goodbye to my Owl friend and left it alone to rest.
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