Immature Great-horned Owl

May 24, 2016

I was in Blackburn Park (Webster Groves) a couple days ago, in search of a black-billed cuckoo that had been reported by a reliable birder. After three hours of searching and waiting, I actually saw the cuckoo but missed an opportunity for a fantastic image. I’ll admit, my reflexes aren’t quite as fast as they used to be. The cuckoo got the best of me on that morning. While in the park, I saw a couple of juvenile great-horned owls flying around in the dark woods but there was no chance for an image in those conditions.

This morning, I returned to the park, along with my buddy and great birder, Bill Fritz. We searched again for the black-billed cuckoo, and even got a great look at a yellow-billed cuckoo, as well as several different warbler species. During our search, Bill caught sight of this very young great-horned owl in the same deep woods. I knew it would be difficult to get a razor sharp image in the challenging conditions, so I did the following, with the help of an incredibly still owl. I framed the owl and locked my tripod down, locked my mirror up so it wouldn’t cause any vibration during deployment, set ISO to 800 in order to achieve a realistic shutter speed of 1/50 second, and set my delay to 2 seconds so I wouldn’t even be touching the camera when the shutter deployed. I was pleased with the result and thanked the sweet little owl for holding still.

I’ve used my standard landscape photography techniques, described above, before on dead-still animals and it usually works well. I’ve been remiss in providing shooting information in Nature Frames, but here you go:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500 mm lens with Canon 1.4 TC II (700 mm total); 1/50 second; f/5.6; ISO 800; Mirror Locked; 2 second timer deployed; all on a Gitzo GT 3530 LS Tripod with a Wimberley II Gimbal Head. The image is full-frame.

Thanks for looking,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery and Print Information:  Danny’s Website

3 comments on “Immature Great-horned Owl”

  1. Great shot!

  2. I’ve seen a few nestlings and fledglings in Forest Park, of course, but never such a delightful portrait of one!

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