Backyard Screech Owls

Adult Eastern Screech Owl perched in a Sable Palm Tree

I have enjoyed Eastern Screech Owls nesting in my backyard for many years now.  When the old nest box literally fell apart I asked Jim to build a new one.  He built a magnificent one out of a cypress stump and covered it with cypress bark.  We were not sure if the owls would take to the box until it weathered, but we were wrong. Three owlets fledged this year and have been hanging around my backyard.  The baby owls cannot fly for the first couple of days and stay close as the parents bring food to them – usually beetles, lizards, roaches, earthworms and dragonflies.  After a couple of days they become much more active and can fly from tree to tree, making photography much harder. The owlets are the same size as the adults but are fuzzy and gray as compared to the sleeker adults with patterns of brown, gray and white.

Most of the photography was done between 11:30 pm and 1:00 am.  I used a 500mm lens and one flash. Camera set on manual and flash at full power TTL. The flash extender was not needed as the owls are close and generally don’t mind my presence. Two flashes would have been better but it is hard to accomplish this as I had to aim, focus, hold the flash, take the photo and swat mosquito’s at the same time and before the bird moved while holding a flashlight. I was hand holding the flash to aim it between the branches as the flash needs to be held away from the lens as much as possible to prevent red eye on these night time birds.

Click HERE to see the images.  Don’t forget the icon in the bottom right to see them full screen.
Pay attention to the captions and also the eyes.  Since I was using a continuous shutter and I have included photos to show how the Owls pupils react to the light.


This entry was posted in Florida Wildlife.

One Comment

  1. Sharon Baron 05/29/2012 at 10:13 PM #

    Those owls are wonderful! I especially like the one with the changing pupils.
    This has given me the incentive to put up my father’s build bird houses.