Barred Owls: You Just Can’t Trust Them!

December 19, 2017

A barred owl spots me from my hide at the pond this morning.

We had a Christmas luncheon a few days ago, and at around 3:00 PM I advised everybody to keep their eyes open for a barred owl that perches in the cedar trees every day around that time. As my friends, most of them bird nerds, gathered around the east windows, checking for the “dependable” barred owl, it never showed up. Even though I had seen the barred owl almost every day at that time, I wasn’t surprised because if I’ve learned one thing about birds over the years, it’s that you just can’t trust them!

Fast forward a couple days to this morning when I was sitting at my pond well before sunrise. Sure enough, the same barred owl swept across the field in front of me and landed in a cedar tree. Although it was pointed in the opposite direction, it kept turning its head 180 degrees to check me out. I was well-hidden and on the other side of the pond but the owl immediately knew something was up so I was afraid to move my lens. Finally, I waited until it turned its head away for a moment, swung my lens on its location and made the featured image. It was still quite dark so I captured the image with a high ISO setting at 1/50th of a second. Years of practicing long lens technique definitely helped me this morning.

I was pleased with the final result as the gorgeous barred owl stood out in striking contrast to its cedar perch and the background layers of more cedar trees. I used an exposure compensation of a full stop (-1) to keep from overexposing the owl against the dark background. The owl was about 50 – 60 meters away so the image you are seeing is cropped at about 40%.

After I returned to the house and processed the barred owl image, I was reminded of my words to Joyce as we had coffee and toast before my departure at 6:15 AM. To the best of my memory, I said, “Sometimes I just don’t know why I get up every morning to go sit in the woods staring at nothing. There is no way I’m going to see anything at the pond this morning.” She gave me her usual pep talk and I was happy to eat those words four hours later.

Thanks for looking,


Email me any time at:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com if you want to purchase a metal print, traditional print, or just talk about something.

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18 comments on “Barred Owls: You Just Can’t Trust Them!”

  1. Awesome story Danny, great suggestions.

  2. Absolutely stunning. Becky Y

  3. Beautiful……………………

    Sandi Hillermann McDonald

    2601 E. 5th St. | Washington, MO. 63090

    636-239-6729 | 636-239-0103 |

  4. Wishing you both the best of Christmas and the New Year, and long may you continue to regale us with such tales and images! -Deepa.

  5. I just love this Owl picture!! Your more patient than I am. As all your pictures they are beautiful.
    I got a great picture of my he Snowy Owl and now I’m trying to find more Owls. Would you say the best time to spot Owls is in the early morning?
    Love looking at your pictures.

  6. I appreciate the time you take to share your talent with every picture and story you tell! You provide glimpses of wildlife many of us may never see and your knowledge is incredible. And, GO JOYCE, your personal cheering squad. Thank you, Danny.

  7. Love the story and the photography! The owl is amazing.

  8. We have a significant number of owl families just across the river from my house. A few years ago, a neighbor found an owl baby just outside his front door. He called the rescue people for birds of prey and was told to leave it where it was found and the parents would return for it. They did in the wee hours as was noted by all the screeching at the reunion. However, I did have the good fortune to get some photos and did a post about it.

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