Tuesday, August 25, 2020

PHOTOS TAKEN AT A DEMONSTRATION GIVEN BY THE RAPTOR CONSERVANCY OF VIRGINIA, CONTINUED.

When I took these photos, I could not remember what kind of owl it was, so I searched for images on Google.  The White-faced Scops Owl was the closest I came. To be 100 percent sure, I wrote to the Raptor Conservancy and they confirmed my identification. Here is what they wrote:

"The owl is a 1-year old male, white-faced Scops owl. He was hatched and raised in New York State but is a native to South Africa. There is an amazing amount of personality packed into the little guy; he is very aware of what is going on around him."

My thanks to the Conservancy for their quick reply.

If you go to the end of my post and click on The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia label, you will be able to see all of them.
So, although this little bird had not been injured physically, I learned a long time ago that those birds kept in captivity or raised as a pet, are so imprinted with humans that it would be impossible for them to fend for themselves if released, as happens with any wildlife of course. I am still not sure if that is the case with this little fellow however as I don't know his full story.

All birds have a second eyelid that cleans and protects their eyes. It is called the nictitating membrane. Owls actually have three eyelids. They have a normal upper and lower eyelid, the upper closing when the owl blinks, and the lower closing up when the Owl is asleep. The third eyelid is the nictitating membrane, and is a thin layer of tissue that closes diagonally across the eye, from the inside to the outside. This cleans and protects the surface of the eye. Owls and hawks have large eyes that protrude and need constant cleaning. Any debris or dust blowing by will stick to the moist surface of the eye.

If you enlarge the collage of three photos above, you can see this membrane in a couple of them. 
Of all an Owl's features, perhaps the most striking is its eyes. Large and forward facing, they may account for one to five percent of the Owl's body weight, depending on the species. The forward facing aspect of the eyes that give an Owl its 'wise' appearance, also give it a wide range of 'binocular' vision (seeing an object with both eyes at the same time). This means the owl can see objects in three dimensions (height, width, and depth), and can judge distances in a similar way to humans. The field of view for an owl is about 110 degrees, with about 70 degrees being 'binocular' vision. By comparison, humans have a field of view that covers 180 degrees, with 140 degrees being 'binocular'.
He was very cute. It was a little awkward getting to him because he had been placed on a branch not as easily accessible as the Screech Owl before him (next post). Not a problem for most, only a few more feet into the trees but lots of fallen branches and wet leaves covering hidden, broken off ankle twisters and as I was still recovering from my last bad sprain, I was a bit nervous of uneven ground. But as I usually am when I see something I really want to take a photo of, I'll go pretty much anywhere.  (Since I wrote this post I have learned to be even more cautious.  Growing older seems to have cured me).  
The nice thing about the shoot was that the two ladies wanted us to have as natural a background for our photographs as possible, which I was very grateful for. I have never actually seen an owl in their natural habitat (I have only seen one since, on a holiday high up in the trees in Florida).
I had been ankle deep in wet leaves, lots of overhanging vines and branches, and when one of the other group members came up behind me and said, "Excuse me but you have a spider on the back of your coat, may I remove it?" I answered calmly, "Oh please do!" After thanking the gentleman I looked at his hand and on it was the biggest daddy-long-legs I had ever seen. No it didn't phase me, 20 years ago it might have. However, here we are 20 years ahead of the scared little namby-pamby and this thought crossed my mind, I wished I had my macro lens.  But that was also in the boot of the car and I wasn't going back again to retrieve it.  Besides, my Scops Owl was taking all my attention.  I was riveted!
Attention span diverted momentarily, I was instantly back to my little owl. I might have mentioned this before, that I can turn into a laser and become extremely focused and he was most definitely what I was focused on.  I wended my way carefully towards him, not really caring what landed on me from overhanging tree limbs or bushes.  After 20 minutes or so I came away hoping that I had at least a few decent photos to show for my trouble.
This is the generalized anatomy of the owl. I found it online.



30 comments:

  1. They are wonderful and natural photos! This is an owl I have not heard of. The first photos are so cool, the way he is looking down. I am terrified of spiders. If someone was to tell me what they told you, about a spider on your back, here is the first thing I would think of...what if it crawls onto my head and gets in my hair? what if it crawls under my clothes and into my pants? And so on and so on...

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    1. Thanks Ginny! When I was young we used to get enormous garden spiders in our house, I mean they were huge! My dad always came in an put them outside, always telling us they are more afraid of you than you are of them. Saying that never helped but maybe the seeds were sown. He was a big nature lover and thought they had a place in this world just like us. I still jump if one crawls on me but then I reach for my camera, lol, and then I try to catch them and put them outside. Since I was a little girl I have always had a fascination with reptiles too, wouldn't want to get too close but I again reach for my camera. I am such a weird lady, oh well! ;)

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  2. Thank you for your laser focus on a bird species which fascinates and delights me.

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    1. You are very welcome EC and so happy that you enjoyed this lovely owl :)

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  3. Witaj piękne zdjęcia, pozdrawiam serdecznie.

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    1. Bardzo dziękuję :) To miło z twojej strony, że komentujesz i doceniam to.

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  4. Hello Denise,

    He is a beautiful owl. Great series of photos. It was nice of the man to remove that spider! Take care, enjoy your day!

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    1. Hello Eileen, he certainly is and it certainly was :) You take care also and enjoy the rest of the week.

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  5. I can see that you have learned your lessons in owl biology well!

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    1. It is enjoyable to learn about these beautiful birds isn't it David? Thank you :)

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  6. All the pictures are amazing and that last one is absolutely stunning and I did not know about the membranes in their eyes. I have seen one very tall bowel in a national park years and years ago and I have seen the two screech owls in our tree in the front yard but that's the only ones I've seen in the wild other than the ones like you saw this one where people were telling us about them

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    1. Thank you Sandra :) I wish I could see a screech owl in my garden. How wonderful! My owl sightings are far and few between. I hope I get a chance to see another one day.

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  7. Very interesting read about the owl. Thanks for that.
    Take care.

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    1. Thank you Margaret, very happy you enjoyed. You take care too :)

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  8. Such an amazing creature! Beautiful photos and great info!

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  9. Niezwykły ptak i super informacje wielu rzeczy nie wiedziałam. Uwielbiam sowy. Piękne fotografie ta sowa wygląda jak Batman.

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    1. Dziękuję bardzo i nigdy wcześniej o tym nie myślałem. Wygląda jak Batman :)

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  10. fascinating read Denise thank you. I am always in awe of nature.

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    1. You are very welcome Christine, and I am too :)

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  11. Love that first photo!!!!

    It's a *hoot*!!!!

    🍂🍁🍂

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  12. I read this post quickly earlier today and came back now that I had a bit more time ...wanted to take my time sharing all you learned and also scroll back for the earlier posts. Loved this little guy and your adventures taking the pictures of him. All the posts were great, I especially loved the Kestrel ..we actually used to see that hawk in our yard (previous life house). ... I’ve seen owls in the wild twice...huge thrill both times.

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    1. Thank you Sallie and I appreciate you coming back to look at others. It's hard to do at times as life gets pretty busy. I remember feeling the same way as you when I have seen them. Huge thrills as you say :)

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  13. Wonderful shots, and quite a photogenic owl.

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  14. My goodness, Denise, how amazing are your photos and information. I really enjoyed reading about the eyes. I didn't realize they had three lids. Wow, nature always amazes me. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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    1. Thank you very much Martha Ellen, and you are very welcome :) The natural world is very healing and amazing :)

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  15. Lovely photos. Take care Diane

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