Short-eared owl hunting voles

Posted by OntPhoto on Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:32 am

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It was awesome to not only see a short-eared owl in the wild but to watch it hunt as well.  The owl was very active and caught several large sized voles while I was there. 

The short-eared owl plunges into the snow just like great gray owls and northern hawk owls do when catching natural prey.  The voles must have been tunneling beneath the snow as I did not see anything until the owl dropped into the snow and was doing a lot of movement with its leg under the snow before reaching down with its head to secure the prey.

This is a composite image of the owl as it captured the vole and then flying away to eat it on a perch much further away. 

Photographed with Canon 7D MK2 and 500 f4 II.  I forgot if I used a tripod or it was handheld with these 2 shots.  Thanks for looking.

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by Axel Hildebrandt on Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:45 am
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Interesting to hear that they hunt like GGOs in the snow.
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by david fletcher on Wed Jan 03, 2018 2:06 pm
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thanks for sharing. Interesting info too. thanks
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by OntPhoto on Wed Jan 03, 2018 2:09 pm
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OAxel Hildebrandt wrote:
Interesting to hear that they hunt like GGOs in the snow.

Yes, in nature almost no voles or field mice run on top of the snow.
First, it is too cold and for rodent or vole to be on top of the snow means almost sure death.  That is why great gray owl, hawk owls and short-eared owls hover over a prey spot and then plunge through the snow with their legs to catch voles and mice which use tunnel systems under the snow to move around.  Snow is a good insulator from the cold and wind.  The only time you see any of the aforementioned owls glising low over the snow is when a small mammal is on top of the snow.  That mostly only happens when people feed them.

by Carol Clarke on Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:17 pm
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Interesting images and information but moved to P&DA because it is a composite of two different images.
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by Ron Day on Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:09 pm
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A wonderful composite which tells a great story about how Short-eared Owl hunts voles. Great narrative and composite.

by Cynthia Crawford on Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:58 pm
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Very interesting story and imagery-well done!
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by Sandy R on Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:14 am
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Great image and interesting information!

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