Northern Hawk Owl

The Northern Hawk Owl is an uncommon visitor to Wisconsin. This bird had a long stay of 4+ months in Door County, Wisconsin near Sister Bay. This bird’s normal range is Canada; the southern border of the range is the most northern edge of Minnesota. Photographs taken February 13, 2013.

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Northern Hawk Owl

Binomial name: Surnia ulula

Category: Typical Owls

Description: Dark brown feathers with cream-colored spots on upper parts; black plumage on the back of the neck.  Underparts and tail feathers are cream with brown bands.  Eyes and beak are yellow.

Size: 14” – 18”, 18” wingspan

Weight: 10.5 oz.

Habitat: Deciduous and coniferous forests near open areas such as clearings, meadows, and swamps

Diet: Rodents (especially voles), hares, weasels, thrushes, grouse, and finches

Nesting: Both parents build a nest, normally in the top of dead conifers or hollow stumps or, more rarely, on cliffsides.  The female lays 3 to 11 eggs and does most of the incubating while the male hunts.  After 25 to 30 days, the chicks will hatch and the female will hunt while the male guards the nest.  After about 3 weeks, the fledglings will begin to leave the nest.

Notes: Northern Hawk Owls are considered a rare bird due to their low population density and remote nesting habitats.  However, if you are lucky enough to find one, they may allow you to approach quite closely.  They are unusually tolerant of humans.  But, if it is breeding season, the males tend to get quite aggressive while defending their young.  Approach with caution.

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Barred Owl

Barred Owl with owlets at Pheasant Branch, Madison Wisconsin. Photographs taken on May 7, 2013

Barred Owl Adult

Barred Owl Adult

Barred Owl Juvenile

Barred Owl Juvenile

 

Adult coming in to nest cavity to feed a juvenile.

Adult coming into nest cavity to feed a juvenile.

Adult coming into nest cavity to feed a juvenile.

Adult coming into nest cavity to feed a juvenile.

 

Adult turning around in nest cavity.

Adult turning around in nest cavity.

Adult exiting nest cavity.

Adult exiting nest cavity.

Adult in flight after leaving nest cavity.

Adult in flight after leaving nest cavity.

2 Juveniles in nest cavity.

2 Juveniles in nest cavity.

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Short-eared Owls in the South Kettle Moraine at the Scuppernong River Habitat Area in Waukesha County Wisconsin on March 8, 2013

The Short-eared Owl has been one species on my list to see and photograph. The Scuppernong River Habitat Area in Waukesha County has some and I went out, spent the afternoon till dark to try to capture these cool birds. Late in the day as the sun is just starting to go down 4 birds appeared from out of no where it seemed. They hovered over the prairie areas and on occasion perched for a couple of minutes. These images are a little rough because of the little light that is left in the day when they come out and start their hunting, but show some of the action that took place. Images where taken on March 8, 2013.

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Short-eared Owl

Binomial name: Asio flammeus

Category: Typical Owls

Size: 15” long, 38” wing span

Weight: 12 oz

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With vole