Vinemount ON. 20 April 2016. This is a post-script tale about the second of two interesting birds seen the same day. The first was the Blue-headed Vireos, q.v, the second a Short-eared Owl seen at dusk. It wasn’t a triumph of discovery on my part; I pretty well expected it to be there, as did a horde of other photographers and birders.
It’s been several years since I’ve seen a Short-eared Owl, watching one in flight is compelling, almost hypnotically so. They fly in a buoyant, moth-like manner on wide angular, pale-on-the-underside wings. Pete Dunne in his excellent book ‘Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion’ likens a flying Short-eared Owl to a pale beer keg on wings.
The one we saw had just started its dusk hunt and came from across a quarry behind us, wheeled around and landed atop a decrepit old apple tree in the middle of large scrubby field. It remained there for perhaps fifteen minutes until a nearby freight train made enough racket to prompt it to move on. Because owls are generally so magnetic it was a wonderful sighting even if it lacked any of the thrill that comes from finding the bird myself. Falling on the same day it couldn’t displace the Blue-headed Vireo as bird of the Day but it certainly was Bird of the Evening.