Sometime around noon on this lazy Saturday, I received a message from birder extraordinaire, Jim Lind, that a Boreal Owl was hunting around his uncle’s yard northwest of Two Harbors. Now a Boreal Owl is a very rare bird, but I’ve seen many (including one just two days earlier), but for Bridget it would be a lifer. So we bundled up little Birk Anders (it was time for his nap anyway) and headed north.

It was a gorgeous day for a drive anyway…40 degrees and sunny. About an hour later (after a long debate about which fast food place to drive-thru) we arrived at the rural home only to find that it had flown into the woods and they had not seen it for a while. I decided to tromp through the pine woods to see if I could find the little guy. The snow was deep!…Up to my knees and powdery so simply walking was a workout. The term “needle in a haystack” kept creeping into my mind. I was listening for the scolding of chickadees…They often mob small owls. Sometimes its tough to determine if they are scolding you or an owl. Then I heard an extremely agitated Red-breasted Nuthatch. But I only glanced at the spruce since the feisty little nuthatches are easily perturbed. After slogging through the deep snow for ten more minutes, I gave the large spruce another look…And there he (she? It?) was…tucked against the trunk just waiting for another vole to make a fatal mistake and show itself. I hurried back to the car and got Bridget. She couldn’t have asked for a better look. Neat bird. I crept within 20 feet and he never even glanced at me…Typical of these “tame” birds. I shot several dozen images with both the 400mm f5.6 and flash (mounted on the hotshoe…a bad habit that gives the birds redeye or ‘steel eye’ but which, I feel I can fix in Photoshop) and the 200mm to give more of a “bird in the habitat” look. Minutes later, Tony and Tom Hertzel showed up as did Peder Swingen (whom I’ve seen at the last three Boreal Owl sightings in less than a week).

A wonderful afternoon…And little Birk Anders slept through the whole thing!

Canon XTi, handheld, f5.6 at 1/400, ISO 400

Close up with Canon 400mm f5.6, bird-in-the-landscape shot with Canon 70-200mm f4