Long-eared Owl in Banff

When my alarm went off at 6:30 this morning, I felt like doing pretty much anything but going out and taking pictures. But against my better judgement, I scraped myself out of bed and drove into Banff to cruise the Bow Valley Parkway and see what I could find.

While I didn't see any large mammals, I did have a remarkable, and unique, sighting near the start of the Sawback Burn in amongst the charred tree skeletons. As I was driving along, an odd shape on a snag caught my eye and I looked over to see a small, strange-looking owl peering back at me through the light snow. I did a quick mental checklist of owls I've seen before and none matched the description of the one looking back at me.

I snapped a few quick shots, then moved in a little closer and took this shot of the owl, still unsure of what kind of owl I was photographing.

Long-eared Owl - photograph cropped 50%
As luck would have it, I had forgotten my bird id book at home, so I had to wait a few hours before I could positively identify the orange-faced, miniature, great horned owl lookalike that I had seen. When I got home, I realized that I had spotted and photographed my first ever long-eared owl!

I also managed to get some nice images of varied thrushes that were lining the Bow Valley Parkway feeding on the tiny bit of exposed grass on the edge of the road.
Varied thrush in a spruce tree

Varied thrush hanging out in the snow
Portrait of a thrush

All in all, a successful day. Guess it pays to get up early...sometimes....

Cheers, John
© John E. Marriott Photography