February 22, 2019
| Short-eared Surprise by Walt Cochran |
Congratulations to our seventh and penultimate BirdSpotter People’s Choice winner, Walt Cochran of Gardner, Kansas! Walt garnered the most votes for this stunning photo of a Short-eared Owl. He shares his heart-warming story:
While driving one evening along the dam of a local lake, I was very surprised to have this young Short-eared Owl fly up from the spillway and surprise me – it was pretty late in the evening and the sun was going down. This owl, as well as several others, were hunting the grassy side of the spillway. I had my camera with me and this little guy allowed me to back-up and take a close-up! I wish the light would have been better as I had to shoot the image hand-held from my car with a super high ISO setting. THE BEST PART OF THIS experience was that my disabled daughter who likes to take “birding and wildlife” drives with me was able to see one of the awesome owls close-up from our wheelchair van.
Short-eared Owls can be found over most of North America, depending on the time of year. They won’t come to your feeders, but are frequently seen in daylight. Search for them in winter (unless you live in the northern U.S. or Canada) in open fields, grasslands or airports at dawn or dusk. You’ll want to watch out for their black-rimmed yellow eyes close to the ground, where they may be sitting, or flying low hunting for small mammals.
Submissions are open for the final BirdSpotter category Boring is Beautiful. Submit your photo by midnight Eastern Time on Thursday, February 28, 2019 for a chance to win! These final winners will be announced on Friday, March 1, and will be entered into the Grand Prize contest (between all Award Winners). Voting for the Grand Prize winners will open March 2nd! Biweekly People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice winners receive prizes from the Cornell Lab and our sponsor, Wild Birds Unlimited. Anyone can participate by entering a photo and voting for their favorites. Find out more about the BirdSpotter contest.