POTD: Tempting Fate

POTD: Tempting FateTempting Fate
Bozeman, Montana

Magpies and other corvids are often on the dinner menu for Great Horned Owls. Specifically in this case I believe this one is a Northern/Subarctic great horned owl, Bubo virginianus subarcticus. Yet this magpie and a myriad of its kin as well as crows and ravens spent the day yesterday near our house bugging the heck out of this owl, often hopping from branch to branch around it. I guess they figured there is safety in numbers, and of course owls hunt mainly at night. However, Wikipedia reports:  “In one case, though usually passive while being mobbed during the day, a great horned owl was able to capture and kill an American crow that was harassing it.” Like I said, tempting fate.

I mentioned the corvids were bugging this owl all day. I know this because I first noticed it going on about 9:30 in the morning when I heard a great cacophony of noise and saw a big murder of crows all flying towards the same spot when I was out for a walk. I followed them and took some photos and video with the small camera I had with me at the time. Late in the afternoon I returned in my car with my big camera and telephoto lens and found the owl in the same spot I’d left it earlier.

If you’re interested, I’ve posted a video I took earlier in the day on my web site. I’m pretty sure it’s in the running for the worst wildlife video ever, but it does show some of the other birds in the area getting in on the action. Here’s the link. It’s a pretty big file (24mb) so may play with a lot of fits and starts. If you think it’s worth it, you might want to right click on the link and save the file to your computer (click on “save link as” in Windows anyway–don’t know about Apple products). It will take a little while to download but then should be watchable without stalling.

7 thoughts on “POTD: Tempting Fate”

  1. Very interesting! You witnessed and captured an incredible scene. So, the minute the sun goes down, it’s all over for the corvids and magpies.

  2. I love this photo!

    I have seen crows (or ravens, I don’t know…) bugging red-tailed hawks before, and now I pay more attention when crows or magpies go crazy, because I never know what I’ll find.

    In the video, the owl seems to not give a @*$% about the birds at first, but then it’s interesting to watch what I interpret as a little nervousness in the way it turns its head, watching all the commotion around it. I wonder if it’s a fairly young one.

    1. Carol, what seemed to get the owls attention the most was when a guy driving a pickup with a snowplow would go by on the road with his blade down. But the whole time I watched the owl, it seemed to barely acknowledge the other birds around it.

  3. Great photo, Larry! That owl does have an annoyed & hungry look in its eyes! I’ll take a look at your video too.

    BTW, great portfolio in the newest Lenswork. I enjoyed the story of how this project started for you as much as the images themselves. I think one of my favorites is the girl reading below the billboard woman saying “shhhhhhh”! 🙂 Congratulations on your 6th publication in Lenswork.

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