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Owls in the Midwest

Mike Kowal , Nov 06, 1999; 10:54 p.m.

Just curious if any of you would know where I can do some wintery 'Owltography' in the midwest??? My files lack this animal horribly and if not in the midwest, any and all takers for advice on some Snowy's will be greatly appreciated. THANX!!!

Responses

Aistis Tumas , Nov 07, 1999; 02:12 p.m.

Try the "Guide to Owl Watching in North America" by Donald S. Heintzelman. This book provides good locations and general information on owl species.

Bruce J Leventhal , Nov 07, 1999; 02:25 p.m.

Unfortunately Mike, Midwest owl photography is not as predictable as photographing wildflowers in Colorado or Elk in Yellowstone. Because I live in Minnesota, I have begun to speciallize in owl photography, simply because I have been opportunistic. The Owls you are likely to see in our lovely (but cold) state include, but are not limited to: Great Gray Owl, Hawk Owl, Barred Owl, Boreal Owl, Great Horned Owl, Long eared Owl, Snowy Owl, and Screech Owl. All of these birds have been spotted and photographed as south as the Twin Cities. With that said, Northern Owl Photography is at its best in the worst of worst winters. If the weather is hurrendously cold in Canada, the northern owls will migrate south. What is warmer to them is still freightfully cold to us. My best owl photos have occured in temperatures between -10 & -20 Farenheight (no joke!). If you do choose to deal with the bitter cold, their is a spot about 40 miles west of Duluth, MN called the Sax-Zim bog & it is known for its owly conditions. This is a bog within boreal forest, and is great for spotting and photographing owls. While you're their in January, you should definitely head South along the Mississippi river to Rieds Landing where there is often a congregation of 40-60 Bald Eagles. This is an area where the river does not freeze over and oxygen deprived fish often accumulate. The photography is good, but you will need at least 600mm to get acceptable images of the eagles.

regards, bruce

Matt bohan , Nov 08, 1999; 09:39 a.m.

If you are interested in Michigan Owls you may want to try subscribing to their state rare bird list...you can find more info at http://people.mw.mediaone.net/lesser/birding.htm.

Some good places I know of are Whitefish point in the UP which will get Great grey Owls on occasion (they are mentioned on the list I described when they are around) Maple river state game area is a good place for short eared owls. In Northern Ohio you may want to try Crane Creek which can be a great place to see Great Horned owls, Screech owls, and in cold winters, Short Eared owls.

Matt

Bob Royse , Nov 08, 1999; 12:36 p.m.

In Ohio there are some good owl places. Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area in Wyandot Co. is the best known spot. There are roosts of Northern Saw-Whet and Long-Eared Owls. Unfortunately over the years the birds have been subjected to much disturbance by groups of loud birders and thoughtless "photographers". It probably isn't possible to get good shots of the Long-Eareds there any more since they have become extremely wary and their numbers have dwindled. The Saw-Whets still will allow for photo-ops, but please use a long telephoto when doing so, since too many point-and-shoots and slr's with short zooms have been pointed in their faces, giving photographers a bad name.

Short-Eared Owls are a better subject in Ohio. Last winter ('98/'99) was excellent for them. A 500, or preferably 600mm, lens with teleconverters is mandatory, though. Killdeer Plains can be good for them also, especially when many migrants are present. I go there often, but haven't had consistent luck with them there. Last March I found a group of about 35 in a field and was able to get some good flight shots as they passed by. A better place in general for S.-E. Owls in Ohio are the reclaimed strip mines east of Columbus. As many as 80 can be counted near The Wilds in Muskingum Co., often by the side of the road. Photographing them from a vehicle is the best way to do it there. Woodbury Wildlife Area in Coshocton is another good place and there are others.

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