Barred Owl Encounter – This Time My Choice

If you follow this blog then you know early in the week I post about my weekend experiences and later on about my travels or something that has caught my eye. But a Barred Owl encounter yesterday was so special I decided to make a separate post.

And the timing was eerily coincidental since I had recently reread a post on the ABA blog about ethics.

As I posted last week a foggy encounter with a Northern Harrier was all too brief. Like many birding experiences the harrier was there one moment and gone the next. Not much I could do about it. That’s the way it works out.

But it was my choice yesterday to limit the time with the Barred Owl .

I had stopped to check for waterfowl on one of Atterbury FWA’s small lakes. Saturday’s plan was to spend several hours walking Johnson County Park. So I wasn’t going to stop unless I immediately saw something. No waterfowl. But a bird was warbling in the trees. Not a House Finch. Purple Finch?

Once deciding to stop I have a self-imposed rule stating I have to bird the area.

No 3 minute eBird stops.

Parking the car I hear the warble one last time. But now I’m committed to bird the area.

First a Swamp Sparrow pops up for a few photos.

Swamp Sparrow is across the grass chipping away.

Note: The caption in the next photo is important.

I zoom in on the Swamp Sparrow for a better photo.

Note, I have zoomed the camera in and left it there.

I decided to bushwhack to the lakes’ other side where the waterfowl usually congregates.

I haven’t bushwhacked far when for whatever reason I notice a Barred Owl behind and to the left, hidden in the scrubby brush.

Maybe 10 feet away.

In all my years of birding I have never been this close to an owl. At least not an awake one. And that one was 20 feet up in a tree.

Thinking the Barred Owl is going to fly I slowly raise the camera and take a photo.

Barred Owl Encounter
The camera is still set to ZOOM from taking the Swamp Sparrow photo! Not wanting to miss the chance I take the close-up.

The owl doesn’t move and backing out the zoom I take a few more photos.

Walking carefully as not to disturb it, I slowly move to an open spot for another photo.
Maybe because I’m walking slowly the owl doesn’t seem to mind my presence, even turning its head.

Checking the photo’s time stamps the Barred Owl encounter lasted less than 1 minute.

But unlike last week’s Northern Harrier encounter this time it was my choice to come and go quickly.

I never looked back and went about bushwhacking to the other side of the lake.

Even though it lasted less than a minute I can guarantee this will be one of those moments I will recall years from now.

4 Replies to “Barred Owl Encounter – This Time My Choice”

  1. Yes! Superb photos and a great story to boot. I have had a similar encounter with a Barred Owl, and it will always be one of my favorites even though these are “common” birds.

    1. Thanks Greg. I’ll think back but I think all of my favorite birding moments are with “common” birds. At least they were “common” in the area I was located!

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