Spotting an owl in the wild is a coveted sight for most and more and more people today are getting out and going “owling” to try and spot one of these majestic birds in their element. These resident raptors remain in their territory year-round giving you a great opportunity to spot one in your neck of the woods.
Although traditionally nocturnal, the night time is not the only time to have a good shot at spotting an owl. There are a handful of species that are actually somewhat active during the day like short-eared and snowy owls, and can often be spotted if you are in the right place when the sun is shining. For the most part however, going out in the field at dawn or dusk is really your best opportunity to spot an owl.
Knowing where you can find owls can sometimes be the biggest challenge, as most species have a very large range, but can become quite comfortable in a particular location that offers them consistent food and good shelter. Get online, ask around and do your best to find out where people in your community are spotting owls and get to that area to increase your odds.
Another unique way to spot an owl or perhaps a roost is by spotting a pelt left behind from an owl like the barred owl. These owls will regurgitate the fur and bones from their prey like mice, moles and chipmunks, leaving behind a small pelt on the ground. These pelts typically measure around 2”-3” and are often a great sign while scouting that an owl lives nearby.
In the event you get a glimpse of an owl be sure to keep your distance and remain quiet as these birds have excellent hearing and have been known to aggressively defend their nest. Be sure to reference your field guide and learn more about the specific species you are observing and provide the bird with the respect that it deserves. Minimizing lighting and sudden and loud noises will go a long way in protecting the safety and security of your subject.
Have a story about an owl encounter? Let us know about your favorite owling story or if you have spotted any in recent months in our comments section below or stop on by the store, we would love to swap stories with you!