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Iroquois Birding and My Very Own Screech-Owl

Published February 07, 2015
Tags: General Observations, Snowy Owl, White-throated Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Common Redpoll, Northern Cardinal, Ring-necked Pheasant, Eastern Screech-owl

I was out in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge area and decided to drive around a bit. It's been really tough trying to get some birding in this winter. We've had a lot of snow this year - more than usual - and there hasn't been a thaw to melt any. It's piling up everywhere and is making it very difficult to even bird from the car!  But - out I wander anyway - hoping not to get stuck or buried under a drift!

On this day, I happened on two Snowy Owls.  Neither were the much lighter bird seen earlier in the season. As a matter of fact, the darker of these two owls appears to have been marked by a bander. Its head was sprayed with an identifying dark paint, making it appear even darker than it is.  Both were very tolerant of me taking photos as I approached very slowly and stayed within my car, using my car as a blind. They each gave me passing glances, but quickly went back to surveying the fields they were watching.  I stayed only a couple of minutes with each, grabbed a few photos, and then left them to their pursuits.

At a friend's house, I enjoyed some feeder birds, including a Common Redpoll. Dark-eyed Juncos, several Northern Cardinals, and three kinds of sparrows: White-throated, American Tree, and a single Song Sparrow, which is not all that common in the winter.

My friend's Eastern Screech-owl was peeking out of its box, enjoying the sunshine and I took a photo of its cute, little face. Little did I know, two days later, I would have an owl in my OWN owl box.  I literally almost yelled out loud when I saw the hole taken up by our little visitor!  I've been checking that hole nearly 20 times every single day for nearly an entire year now - and finally - FINALLY - we got an owl!  I ran out and got my scope and set it up so my husband, son, and I could get nice looks. We enjoyed it for hours - until it got too dark to see. Unfortunately, the next day, he never reappeared; a one-day wonder.  But what an absolute thrill it was!
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Snowy Owl (the marked one) out in a field
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The same, marked owl after it flew up to a pole
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Snowy Owl
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Snowy Owl - zoomed-in
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A different Snowy Owl - Snowy Owl #2
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Snowy Owl #2
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American Tree Sparrow
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American Tree Sparrow
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White-throated Sparrow
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Song Sparrow - a nice, winter treat!
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Common Redpoll
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Female Northern Cardinal (I loved her doo!)
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Dark-eyed Junco
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Male Ring-necked Pheasant
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Female Ring-necked Pheasant
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Female Ring-necked Pheasant
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Eastern Screech-owl
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My OWN Eastern Screech-owl!