Category Archives: Owling

All About the Owls

With spring migration hitting, Alberta birders are getting out more and more, looking for returning waterfowl, gulls, and raptors. One early migrant found me last week, a bird I had never seen before, only heard – Northern Saw-whet Owl!

NSOW!!

Northern Saw-whet Owl

This was followed up by a big owling trip on Saturday – my Dad, two friends and I set out at 3pm to find 8 or even 9 species of owls, four of which were strictly nocturnal, four diurnal and one crepuscular (dawn/dusk). We started birding east of Calgary, where it didn’t take long to find many Grey Partridge, and a distant lump hunched on a pole which turned out to be a Gyrfalcon! Shortly thereafter, we happened across our goal for that area – one of only a few remaining Snowy Owls. Most of these majestic raptors have already began the short flight north, but there are always some that stay behind for longer.

SNOW

Snowy Owl

From there, we aimed for the Water Valley area, hoping for Great Grey Owls and Northern Pygmy Owls. It didn’t take long! In the rapidly falling light, we found three of North America’s largest owls.

GGOW

Great Grey Owl

A short detour to Winchell Lake area gave us the Pygmy we were looking for.

NPOW

Northern Pygmy Owl – not the same individual as seen at Winchell Lake

Hitting a road where we had all seen our fifth target, the Short-eared Owl, we happened across another Great Grey, and not one, not two, not even three, butĀ fourĀ Short-ears!

SEOW

Short-eared Owl

SEOW

One of the owls took off and began flying along the valley

Lamentably, these proved our final owls of the day, as none of the nocturnal birds graced us with a call at any of our numerous stops – where we knew there were owls! Ah well, the owl is a fickle bird, and will turn up only when it wants to – all we pitiful human observers can do is watch and wait for them.

See my other owling posts here:

2015 Snowy Owl Hunt

2018 Snowy Owl Hunt