A studio for bird study

Tag: asio

Short-eared Owl at Sunrise

by Bryce W. Robinson

Short-eared Owl- Asio flammeus. 9x12" prismacolor on bristol.

Short-eared Owl- Asio flammeus. 9×12″ prismacolor on bristol.

After such an amazing winter with Short-eared Owls, I knew I needed to sit down and illustrate at least one bust of the bird. Here is Asio flammeus, with a distant gaze, as if it were perched in Skull Valley as I have seen them, watching the rise of the sun and the inception of a new day.


Truly, A Winter of Short-eared Owls

by Bryce W. Robinson


This winter I have seen more Short-eared Owls than ever before. To be quite honest, I had seen very few before this year. Now I have a feeling that the bird is quite common in my area. I cannot decide whether my exposure to this owl this year is due to my constant traveling, or due to a boom in this years population spurred by an abundance of prey. As for now, it remains a mystery, but is something to look into.

At the moment, the Short-eared Owl is a bird I regularly see. These regular sightings in no way diffuse or dampen the mysticism and allure that I feel when I come upon the creature. More often than not, I first glimpse the owl in the air. As is its habit, it hunts amongst short grass fields and sage landscapes, looking and listening for movement. When it discovers its prey, it makes masterful maneuvers to procure its meal. What a delight to behold this arial owl in the evening light.

The bird in the above photo is the first SEOW that I encountered this season. It sat on this post, in the evening light, in apparent meditation and comfort. At times it would awaken and seem quite nervous, only to slip back into a doze. I will forever remember this season with these birds. They are among my favorite of those that are feathered. I hope sharing my experiences creates the same feelings of awe and wonderment in others, spurring fascination and revere for this special and delicate evening dweller.


Short-eared Owl Casting Pellet

by Bryce W. Robinson


Short-eared Owl- Asio flammeus

I sat with a Short-eared Owl- Asio flammeus this morning for some time. I was lucky enough to capture the owl casting a pellet from a meal the night before. I rarely share my photography lately. The reason being that I am currently unable to afford photoshop or any program to attach a watermark, but this time I couldn’t contain my excitement and need to share this sequence. When I saw the bird hunch its back, I knew what to expect, and raised my lens, ready to capture the scene. The pellet was much larger than I ever thought possible, and I couldn’t believe my luck at the opportunity to capture the sight. Here is the sequence:


It took quite a while for the bird to expel the large pellet. Afterwards, as the last picture illustrates, the owl looked in my direction with a look of contentment. I wonder if it is satisfying for this creature to regurgitate undigested material.

A Painting Returned from the Wild, Perhaps

by Bryce W. Robinson

This morning was cold and crisp as I travelled west towards the Wah-Wah Valley for day two of my second stint of winter raptor surveys. En route my eyes caught a familiar form in a stream system running tandem to the road. Highlighted by the first light of a clear but cool December day was the Great Blue Heron. The sight of the “Sentinel” promised a good day with plenty of birds. I drove on with a settled spirit and a refreshed mind.

The day went well. I saw many more birds than I had even hoped for. Time passed easy and I felt grateful for solitude and my time with the birds. After the survey ended, I found myself rolling along the open roads with the glow of the falling sun highlighting the mountain giants of the high desert. The scene was breathtaking, as it so often is in the west.

I made my way through the farmlands toward Beaver, with a keen eye on the wheel lines and skeleton trees that run alongside the road. Many birds occupy these areas in winter, and even with a day full of sightings, I was open and ready for more. My eyes soon caught the familiar odd shape breaking the pattern of the wheel line. As I neared I knew that the bird watching the glowing fields in the long light of dusk was different from the usual Buteo. With a round head and long wings was the very bird I had so recently finished painting. With the realization of the Short-eared Owl alongside the road, excitement leaked from my body as I prepared to meet for the first time in years, Asio flammeus.

Short-eared Owl on wheel line

Normally, raptors are rather wily and do not let you very near, but this owl tolerated me till I was within twenty meters of his eyes. I sat for ten minutes firing my camera and observing the striking creature. His head turned and turned as it surveyed for prey. I felt frustrated that the sun sat behind the bird, but I took nothing for granted and photographed the bird nonetheless. Unable to contain myself, I slowly opened my car door to step toward the bird and perhaps get around for a shot in better lighting. My careful actions became too much for the owl, and he retreated into the glowing landscape of the falling sun.

Asio flammeus, the Short-eared Owl

I am stricken by the coincidence of finding the bird in such an unlikely place only days after finishing my painting. Nevertheless and no matter the reason, I am grateful to have met Asio flammeus, the Short-eared Owl.