Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Three for three in Blaine County

On January 1 a Northern Hawk Owl was found at the end of a residential cul de sac in Bellevue, and a couple of days later we got a chance to go and try to see it. Of course we had to add a couple of other nearby rarities to the trip as well. We started off by quickly finding a Eurasian Wigeon that had been lingering for a while at at Silver Creek Preserve, and a Harris’s Sparrow at the Hayspur Fish Hatchery. All of them were found within the first minute or so after we got to their location. The Eurasian Wigeon's red head stuck out like a sore thumb among the other waterfowl, and the Harris's Sparrow was just out in the open right in front of the shop at the hatchery.

 

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Eurasian Wigeon at Silver Creek Preserve, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

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Harris’s Sparrow at Hayspur Fish Hatchery, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

The Northern Hawk Owl was just as cooperative. When we arrived it was right in clear view and was hunting actively. We saw it capture at least 2, if not 3-4 rodents in the 25-30 minutes we were watching it. It kept disappearing quickly after each kill, returning just a minute or two later to start hunting again. I suspect it might have been doing well enough to cache some food for later. It was quite unwary as well. It was a good distance away from the road when we first arrived, but several times it kept moving in to a perch right by the road, and at one point it even landed on a fence post, probably 6 feet or less from the nearest car. Sadly, just as I was about to snap off what would have been my best shot of the day, the car nearest the owl turned on their engine, spooking the bird right before I could hit the shutter. Oh well!

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Northern Hawk Owl in Bellevue, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

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Northern Hawk Owl in Bellevue, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

Additionally, check out this fun sequence of the Northern Hawk Owl pulling a rodent out from underneath the snow cover. It was putting on quite the show!

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Northern Hawk Owl in Bellevue, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

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Northern Hawk Owl in Bellevue, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

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Northern Hawk Owl in Bellevue, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

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Northern Hawk Owl in Bellevue, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

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Northern Hawk Owl in Bellevue, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

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Northern Hawk Owl in Bellevue, Blaine County. January 3, 2015.

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