Wood Ducks and Owls

If you Google “most beautiful duck in nature”, the top three items listed are wood ducks. I had never seen or photographed a wood duck up close, until we went to Grand Junction, Colorado in search of Owls (I have photographed a wood duck from a far distance, see a previous post Morning Colors). The Audubon Society in Grand Junction is very active and has conducted an Owl Prowl, where they provide a tour of local owl nesting sites in the area. My friend Bob and I went for the owls and found wood ducks. We saw and photographed owls too, but it was the wood ducks that provided the most excitement and fun. Thanks goes to Bob and Eileen of the Audubon Society. They were our guides to the owls and ducks.

Wood Duck Gliding Through Gold

Wood Duck Gliding Through Gold

The Wood Duck is truly beautiful, but can be elusive and easily frightened. At our location they tended to swim on the opposite side of the canal (about 100-150 feet away) always moving away from us and hide in the brush overhanging the shoreline. We set up our tripods, cameras and 500mm lenses and waited. After 15 to 20 minutes they would emerge to swim or fly away. We had only moments to photograph them before they were beyond the range of our equipment.

Wary Wood Duck

Wary Wood Duck

The “woody”, as it is called by bird experts, is stunning in its colors. Males (drakes) are iridescent chestnut and green with ornate patterns. The eye is a vivid red. They live in wooded swampy areas and nest in trees.

Wood Duck Winging Away

Wood Duck Winging Away

I feel fortunate that I now have close up images of wood ducks.

The owls were fun to discover. Bob our guide gave us a private Owl Prowl tour of 6 nesting sites in the Grand Junction area. Not all owls were present and the owlets in most cases were hidden from view. But we did photograph one very active great horned owl nest with 3 owlets (we saw only 2). These owlets are about 2 weeks old and will fledge in 6-8 weeks.

Great Horned Owlet and Parent

Great Horned Owlet and Parent

This nest is getting crowded. Soon the owlets will overflow the nest and become “branchers” as they move out of the nest and onto the supporting branches. View the following video of a “pop-up” owlet as it positions itself for a better view:

We also spotted a dozing western screech owl. We waited and waited, but it never did open its eyes for us. Its texture and color blends perfectly into its surroundings.

Screech Owl Dozing

Screech Owl Dozing

I hope to go back to Grand Junction to photograph the owlets as they grow larger, before they fledge and before the foliating trees block the view.

~ by richardseeley on April 23, 2011.

4 Responses to “Wood Ducks and Owls”

  1. Beautiful images

    Like

  2. Fantastic pictures Rich. How did you persuade them to get in the box with the camera?

    Bill

    Like

  3. Wonderful photos and I enjoyed the video of the owlets
    Best regards
    Tim

    Like

  4. Merveilleuses photos.Très jolies couleurs pour les wood ducks.

    Les hiboux sont très attendrissants. Magnifiques photos et vidéo

    Like

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