Northern Pygmy Owls, The Hunt Continues!

I’ve always been fascinated by owls and strive to photograph them whenever possible.  Here in the Greater Yellowstone area we have a good population of northern pygmy  owls.  I’ve been able to find and photograph them during the winter in the mountain valleys west of my home in Cody, Wyoming.  This is never an easy task.  The owls are very small, quite inconspicuous and occupy a home range of 1 to 4 square miles which makes finding one  akin to winning the lottery. The one factor in the photographers favor is, that at least pygmy owls are diurnal, which means they are active in daylight.  Some of the other small owl species in the area such as saw-whet, western screech and boreal owls are primarily nocturnal making it much more difficult to find and photograph them.  Several of my photo buddies have located and photographed a number of pygmy owls this winter but up till now I’ve had no luck.  Since its getting closer to the owls breeding season they are beginning to respond to calls and are a bit easier to locate.  On Wednesday I actually heard and saw 2 separate birds but was unable to photograph them.  Today I was able to photograph one for a few short minutes when he came in to investigate my call.  I also had some good chances to photograph Townsend’s solitaires which would come into the call to investigate.  The owls are so tiny I was glad to have my Canon EF800mmF5.6L on my Eos 7D camera.  The owl was close to my minimum focus distance which gave me some frame filling images.  I was also able to approach the solitaires close enough for some fine images without alarming them thanks to the great magnification my 800mm lens gives me.

Northern pygmy owl

Townsend's solitaire

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