Days in Pictures

The Raptor Whisperer

Feet, eyes and ponchos

Call it luck, call it omens, but I saw cool raptors three times in the span of one week!

Act I: Reifel Bird Sanctuary, January 13

A surprise Barred Owl by a side trail! The light wasn’t ideal, but with daytime owls, you take what you can get. We did enjoy a short show of it preening its chest and showing off its feetsies for some reason, followed by a well-earned nap.

That fluffy murderbird looks so uwu in the second photo I just can’t stand it.

Act II: Stanley Park, January 15

Another Barred Owl! I’m glad I decided to go out and enjoy a relatively clear day. It literally landed right by the trail as I walked past and stayed there for a while, until I decided to move on. In the second photo it’s being buzzed by a couple crows that objected to its presence.

A passing birder told me this was a popular spot for feeding birds (and it’s true, it’s a nice mix of bushes and trees, you find all sorts of critters here). Discarded seeds attract rodents, and rodents attract, well, creatures that eat rodents.

This owl is not uwu at all, but I can’t help falling in love with its huge mysterious dark eyes.

Act III: my West End street, January 20

Before leaving for Reifel in the morning, I just happened to see this beauty land on the tree outside my apartment. I had time to go out and snap a few photos before it got chased off by some crows.

I love its weird chest plumage; especially in the first photo, it almost looks like it’s not part of its body but worn like a poncho or something. What’s up with that?

Epilogue: some thoughts

First: whether they’re big and round and black, or intense and orangey-brown, having a bird of prey’s eyes lock on to you is a weird experience. You know (intellectually) that they won’t attack you. Probably. But there’s something so primal about these creatures!

Second: It’s not an easy life! You’re always on the move, looking for critters to eat while avoiding other predators and putting up with any other birds that try run you off their turf. Fighting back against crows or starlings is usually not worth it: sure, they’re no match for you one on one but they’re faster, smarter, more numerous, and never play by the Marquess of Queensbury Rules. Running or hiding is usually the thing to do.

So given all that, I guess I should be grateful to see any owls at all in the daytime!

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