Monday, January 9, 2012

Northern Hawk Owl

The Northern Hawk OwlNorthern Hawk owl (Surnia ulula) normally lives in the boreal forests of the circumpolar regions of the northern hemisphere.  It is usually non-migratory and is not seen in the lower 48 states.  However, occasionally it will extend down south into upper Minnesota and other states in the northern United States.  The winter irruptions is thought to correlate with high reproductive successes and decrease prey availability.  This is the same reasoning that we are having such an irruption of snowy owls into the United States It has been found in New England, in all of  the northern states.  NHO range
The Northern Hawk Owl is primarily diurnal and its behavior is different compared to other northern hemisphere owls.  Its behavior resembles more that of the accipiter hawks, and with its long tail, it has been related to the Cooper's Hawk.  It will perch atop prominent trees where it uses its keen hearing and sight to locate prey.
Hawk owl launch ROT_2712Presently, there is one that has been reported in Maine and another one in Vermont.  Thanks to my good friend Christopher, who gave me directions to where the bird is, I traveled up to Palmyra Maine to find the Northern Hawk Owl.  We left my home in Massachusetts at 4:30 AM and arrived at the site at around 8:30 AM.  At the site, we did meet some other birders/photographers and we combined our resources and searched all around the area.  For over 2 hours, we searched with no sign of the owl.  Suddenly one of the group saw the owl land on a birch tree very near us. Northern Hawk owl birchROT_2398 That started over an hour of observing and photographing this beautiful bird.  It flew out of the heavier wooded area and landed in the top of a tree.  Great views were had of the bird, the only problem being no sun in the sky was very cloudy, so the photographs were flat, however, utilizing post processing, utilizing NIK software, especially Color Efex Pro 4 and VIVEZA.  We were able to get excellent pictures.Northern Hawk Owl - fluff  ROT_2439
Hawk Owl wings outspreadROT_2650