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A Cool Find

Boreal Owl
by Dan Hartman

Jan. 13, 2020

     Cindy was opening our snowshoe trail Saturday afternoon when she heard birds harrassing something ahead of her.  After a bit of searching the snow laden pine boughs, she spotted the trouble maker.
     A boreal owl perched wide-eyed next to a sub-alpine trunk some fifteen feet up.
     I was ten minutes behind her, saw the owl and snowshoed back to the cabin for photo gear.
    Soon I was set up, filming and capturing some stills.  We left the owl then, thinking I would return just before dark.
     What happened next was strange.
     A friend of ours had stopped in earlier and before he left he commented, he had never seen a boreal owl.  Well, I told Cindy, I wish, Jared (our friend) could have seen the owl.  Also, I wish we had a vole to give the little fella.
     Ding Dong.  Our doorbell rang and there stood Jared, holding an injured vole he had just found in the middle of the highway!
     We're in business!!
     We snowshoed back to the owl.  I put the vole on top a piece of bark below the boreal and we moved back to watch.
     The vole would have to move around for the owl to strike and I thought I detected some.  The owl was interestd, but did not bite.
     Jared had to get going, after all he had already gotten his lifer.
     I waited another half hour then checked the vole.  He had died from his injuries.  An owl will not eat prey unless he has killed it himself.  This is always a mystery to me, because they will cache food to return to and feed on later.  How is this different?
     Just in case I put a trail cam on the vole before I left for the night.
     The next morning I was surprised to discover the trail cam showed the boreal checked out the dead vole at 7PM, flew off, then returned to perch on the vole again three minutes later.  Once again it flew off, leaving the vole behind.
     Ten hours later, a fox appeared, dug the vole out of the snow, (it snowed about an inch) and carried it's find away.
     Hopefully, this sighting bodes well for my owl study that starts in six weeks.

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Boreal owl

Boreal owl

Boreal owl