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Her majesty deigns to be photographed

I felt like a paparazza, drawing as close as I dared, trying to hold my proper camera with the big zoom steady in the failing light.  But she was calmly perched out in the open, low on our back fence, mobbed by smaller birds.  Hummingbirds orbited her, scolding, like cheeky electrons, but she ignored them. She looked at me, and looked away, bored.  She might be the same one I took photos of last year in our big pine tree; maybe, maybe not.

<< tonight’s Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus (all photos A.Shock, Canon EOS xti)

She was clutching E’s rain gauge — you can just see its acrylic rim over the fence, one of her dark talons curved over it.  Tomorrow morning I’ll go out to see if she left scratches in the plastic, like the woodpeckers do scrabbling for balance on the swinging hummingbird feeders.

I had been hearing the flickers, hummers, a couple of irate mockingbirds, the pair of thrashers who live in the yard, and even a gnatcatcher for a few minutes before it occurred to me go out to see what the fuss was all about.

Flickering flicker.  If you’ve ever wondered why this woodpecker species is called “gilded flicker”, you can see the golden coloration under the flight feathers and tail >>

The owl was overlooking a part of the yard where the cottontails have little cover but apparently there was no action, because after a while, she made a short flight into a small palo verde that has volunteered in the alley, and sat there for a while until it grew dark, looking around at her hostile avian entourage, glaring upward at a circling helicopter as if it were mobbing her too, yet still keeping a downward eye hoping for dinner.

<< On the palo verde throne, fierce-footed

When last seen, she launched towards the butte into the dusk, a gray blur against the graying sky.

Posted by Allison on Nov 16th 2011 10:14 pm | 5 Comments
| View birds,natural history,owls,unexpected,yard list category

5 Responses to “Her majesty deigns to be photographed”

  1. kate mckinnonon 17 Nov 2011 at 7:20 am link comment

    Mindbendingly awesome!

  2. Elizabeth Nelsenon 17 Nov 2011 at 8:47 pm link comment

    What wonderful pictures! This may be the one we have been hearing behind our house….always too high to see.

  3. Allisonon 17 Nov 2011 at 9:15 pm link comment

    Elizabeth — I suspect we all hear the same owl pair in the neighborhood — they’ve been quite vocal this autumn and I hope they nest again. It was quite a surprise to see her this low and visible!

  4. Allisonon 17 Nov 2011 at 9:19 pm link comment

    Kate, the blooming Queen’s Wreath in the foreground just slayed me, pink against her barky back. A couple people have told me they thought I had screwed a plastic Walmart Owl to the fence — Good Feathery Detail indeed!

  5. Judy and Daveon 19 Nov 2011 at 9:03 am link comment

    Photos were terrific and text as well. Thanks for sharing. Judy and Dave

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