Whoo Is This?

by | Jan 2021

Owl perched in tree branches.

Photo: Rod Smoliak

Eagle Lake is home to a watchful raptor.

We’re pleased to greet 2021 with a fresh round of photos from our annual Focus on Maple Grove photo contest, which was held in August. To start off, Rod Smoliak’s Eagle Lake Great Horned Owl, placed second in our Wildlife and Nature category.

“As a wildlife photographer, owls of all types are some of my favorite things to spot, which is why I specifically go out searching for them,” Smoliak says. “Occasionally, I get lucky enough to see an owl fly and land in a viewable position, or crows harassing something is another good indication an owl might be in the area. Most of the time, it’s up to me to spot a stationary owl in a tree, which is a special feeling because they blend in so well.”

This photo was taken in the woods along the west side Eagle Lake. “Like most birds, owls will fly away if a person gets too close, which is why it’s always important to give them and all wildlife space,” Smoliak says. “For this photo, I was using a large telephoto lens, 600mm, on a Sony a7r4 camera.”

Speaking of great horned owls, did you know there’s a reason to be …

… surprised by them?: Apart from crows and raccoons stealing their eggs and nestlings and fellow great horned owls, they have very few predators.

… grateful for them?: They eat more than 4,000 mice a year. (Voles are on the menu, too.)

… impressed by them?: The owls have adapted to the presence of humans and may have become more common than they were in pre-settlement times.

… jealous of them?: They have long eyelashes! 


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