Friday, February 25, 2011

Great horned owl in Tennessee Valley

We spotted this great horned owl sitting along the trail watching the hikers go by near the lagoon in Tennessee Valley. It really blended in quite well with the rocks, so it's easy to see why it selected what could otherwise have been a conspicuous perch.

Great horned owl in Tennessee Valley - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Great horned owls seem to be pretty common in the park, and I guess that's no surprise since there are plenty of rodents in the meadows. It's a lot of fun if you plan to be walking the trail around sunset, since they really start to make a racket in both the eucalyptus trees and the willows. We even saw a pair mating as we were walking out that evening! We heard two hoots coming right after another from the same location, and as we searched for the source, it was pretty easy to find once the feathers started fluttering!

Great horned owl - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

We watched this one for a while, and pointed it out to many hikers who were curious about what my big lens was pointed at. I was happy also to get some frames of it preening. My wife laughed and said that most people would be more excited to get it with its head showing, but I like to capture their everyday behaviour as well.

Owl preening - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography


  1. I know those rocks well, Pat, but I've never been lucky enough to see an owl perched there. Beautiful shots!

  2. What a perfect perch! Great photos Pat.

  3. Thanks, John! I was pretty excited when I spotted it. It was really close to the trail and right out in the open, which seems pretty unusual for these guys in my experience. I would have loved if it would have opened its eyes a bit more, but I'll take what they give me.

    Thanks, Jim! I agree -- I've always been fascinated by the texture of this kind of moss on the rocks, and even better when you can add an owl ;-)

  4. perfect shots of this beautiful owl. :)