Friday, December 12, 2008

Gasp!

I was shooting a Northern Harrior flying low over the prairie until it was too far away, and so I was about to move on...I put the car in gear and started rolling, when something caught my eye just a few yards away, perching on a snag, very low in the tall grass. What the ????



In the first few seconds of thought, I wished it to be a burrowing owl. Oh man, would that have been a dream...

I studied it and studied it, and determined it to be a harrier. The facial disks threw me...Now, I am still excited mind you, but slightly let down. Finding the male harrier roosting is indeed a rare find, but a burrowing owl would have made me pee my pants, seriously! Anyway...




He stayed for quite a long time, looking right...




looking left...



until he decided to flush...



which made for more exciting photos...




There is quite a difference between the male and the female...



The male is plenty paler...



than the female I found flying over , displayed above.



Here are some cool facts:

A long-winged, long-tailed hawk of open grassland and marshes, the Northern Harrier forages by flying slowly low above the ground looking for small rodents. It is one of the few raptors in which the sexes look quite different: the male is white below with a light gray back and hood, the female is mottled in browns.

Most male Northern Harriers are mated to one or two females at the same time. Some males pair with up to five mates in a season.

Unlike other hawks, the Northern Harrier relies on its hearing as well as its vision to capture prey. The feathers of the face are stiff to help transmit sound, and it shows a pronounced "facial disk," much like that of an owl.

The Northern Harrier feeds primarily on mice, other small mammals, and small birds. It will, however, take larger prey, such as rabbits and ducks. It has been known to subdue large prey by drowning it.

Source: All About Birds

12 comments:

Marsha said...

Another bird I have never seen and have really enjoyed seeing and learing about them here.

I hope you find the burrowing owl, you might have to invest in some depends though, LOL!

Shellmo said...

I found this as exciting as if you had found the burrowing owl! Beautiful shots!!

Richard said...

Great pictures. Another bird I've never seen. Sure glad you share...lol.

Tina said...

hannibal,
Jeeze you find the neatest creatures to photograph...I would love to have seen these birds..he looks like he is keeping his eye on you in that last photo!... can't wait for you to spot that owl, though! Love that you include info about your shots. Thanks.

Craig Glenn said...

What a treat! We would all like to go hunting with you....

Great stuff, Hannibal

Craig

Bird Girl said...

What a super duper find, Hannibal! I love those Harriers and yes - that facial disk that is similar to an owl is a dead give away! Wonderful experience and pictures!!!

jalynn01 said...

BG and I have searched for the Northern Harriers and having some luck once in awhile, I never got any pictures half as good as yours. Great find. Great Pictures. Keep searching for your owl, you'll get it!! I know you will.

Wrensong Farm said...

Great pics and info! I've never seen a harrier, but I have seen plenty of burrowing owls growing up in the CA desert.

I used to ride my horse down the flash flood washes and they had little burrows along the side. Even having seen them many times sometimes their popping in and out would spook my horse. :)

Melissa Weisbard said...

I love your blog because not only do I get to see beautiful bird photographs, but I get to learn something too.

Eve said...

Ok Hannibal, I think you need to bring an extra pair of jeans with you from now on...you never know...

I live with Harriers everyday here where I live and have to say I've never got a good photo of one. I've almost been hit by one who didn't see me walking my trail but still no good picture. I've seen the female do a diving ritual which I thought would be a males job...and I've seen her flip cut hay to find mice hiding under there. They are fantastic birds and I will truely miss them when I move to Alabama, hopefully I will get to see them during the winters there.

Stacey Huston said...

Very cool indeed. great job.. Good luck with the burrowing owls. I know the general area of several nest areas here in Wyoming USA, but did not make it to try and photograph this last spring, Maybe next year..

Genny said...

Beautiful, beautiful photos of wonderful birds. Thank you so much for sharing these. I loved all of them.