In this retrospective I’ve focused on events and photos that were uplifting for me during the difficult year that was. Most of these photos haven’t run before, but were taken at the same time as those in posts that ran in 2020. Links to the original posts are at the end of the captions.
When I took this photo, I was thinking of the James Thurber short story, “The Owl Who Was God,” which can be read here. The main differences between that story and this photo are that pueos have very good eyesight during daylight hours, which is when they’re active, and no animals were harmed in the taking of this photo. The bird flew away shortly after I took it. He does have that look though.
This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Capturing a Feeling.’ See more responses here.
A fair number of my photos of perched pueos (Hawaiian short-eared owls) show the birds giving me a scowling look of disapproval. This one has a bit of that, but there’s also a look of astonishment. If I had to give this bird a speech bubble, it would be something along the lines of, ‘He took my picture. He didn’t even ask. The nerve.’
I like this photo for two additional reasons. One is that single, visible curved talon resting on the post. Easy to imagine the effect of that on some unfortunate rodent. The second reason is the eyes. Notice anything about them?
Also posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Gray.’ See more offerings here.
This photo shows a pueo, the native Hawaiian short-eared owl, gliding over a gray road beneath a gray sky. This is a stretch of Old Saddle Road, which is one of the best places to see pueos as they hunt in the pastures on either side of the road or rest on fence posts alongside the road.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Oldie-but-Goodie or Favorite Photo.’ (See more responses here.)
This seemed like a good opportunity to run a few of my favorite photos from the first year of this blog.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Layers.’ (See more offerings here.) I thought about the layering of bird feathers, in this case of a pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl) surveying its surrounds, watchful for threats while also scanning for meal opportunities. Its diligence paid off shortly afterwards when it dove down and snagged a mouse (here).
I saw this pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl) near Waimea and pulled over to take photos. I watched and photographed it for 15 minutes or so and, at the time, I thought there was something unusual about it. Something didn’t seem quite right. But it wasn’t until I got home and looked at the photos that I realized what was up.
The pueo was missing its left eye. The eye socket seemed healed and the pueo didn’t appear to be in pain. Nor did it seem affected in its flying or behavior. In some ways this makes sense. Owls have great eyesight, but it’s their hearing that is truly extraordinary. They can pinpoint prey just by listening. However, in Hawaii, pueos are active during the day so one would think eyesight might be a more important sense than for nocturnal owls.
Either way, I felt a bit sad for the pueo, but I’m also keenly aware that nature isn’t all warm and fuzzy. And I’ve seen several creatures that have been significantly damaged in one way or another that seem to be doing fine despite their handicaps. Perhaps, from a Darwinian point of view, they’re not successful when it comes to finding a mate and breeding, so their genes are not passed on. I don’t know whether this is the case, but it’s certainly possible.
Regardless, I hope for the best for this pueo. Life for them is tough enough as it is without added challenges.
Posted in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Unusual.’ (See more offerings here.)
Last week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme was ‘Flight’ and I posted photos of a pueo flying here. This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Wildlife’ (see more offerings here) and, in an audacious move, I’m posting photos of the same bird.
The photos were taken along Old Saddle Road. It’s a prime area to see pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owls) and when I drive this road, I’m something of a menace to other cars since I spend a good deal of time looking at the sky rather than the road. When I do spot a pueo I tend to veer suddenly onto the grassy verge. This is OK assuming there’s a grassy verge and not a deep channel caused by water runoff.
The day I saw this bird had been a good day indeed. Many pueo had been spotted, several photographed, and no accidents caused. Nearing the end of the prime spotting area, I noticed a bird flying over a pasture. I bumped onto the grass and stopped just in time to see the pueo disappear over a ridge. As I waited to see if it might reappear, I looked across the road and saw this pueo perched on a fence post directly across from where I parked. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart.
I grabbed my camera, eased the window down, trying to make as little noise as possible, and took a few shots. I needn’t have worried. This pueo seemed quite attached to its spot, perched on a metal fence post. It wasn’t about to move just because someone across the road kept making clicking noises. As cars passed, the bird’s head swiveled to follow their progress, then returned to its surrounds. It kept looking down, sometimes leaning forward with a more intense stare.
Suddenly, the pueo plunged into the grass and disappeared from view. Moments later, it flew up again and landed back on the post. This time it wasn’t alone. Hanging from its beak was a mouse. It wasn’t dead, but its future looked bleak. The pueo juggled it briefly, working it into the right position. Then, in a couple of quick gulps, the mouse disappeared, only the tip of its tail hanging out of the pueo’s mouth. Moments later, that too was gone. The pueo hung around for a while longer before taking off to try its luck hunting from the air.
I was struck by the poise of this large bird, perched on a small metal post, while it scanned its surroundings and ate its meal. Look at those talons gripping the post. Not something I’d want around my head. The same goes for its beak.
I’m easily charmed by cute geckos and awed by giant humpbacks, but there’s a reason for the ‘wild’ in wildlife. It’s a critter eat critter world out there and sometimes it can be almost as dangerous as civilization.