Saturday, March 28, 2020

They Live Among Us ~ Great Horned Owls

 

The Great Horned Owl (Bubo Virginianus) - large, powerful, and long-lived - is adapted by its anatomy, physiology, and behavior to survive in any climate but arctic-alpine regions. Equally at home in desert, grassland, suburban, and forest habitats, north to the tree line, it has a diverse prey base and the most extensive range with the most variation in nesting sites of any American owl.

Great Horned Owl Watching CloselyGreat Horned Owl Watching Closely

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Then and Now

Although I have always enjoyed taking photos, I started taking photographs in earnest some time in early 2007, while I was traveling the Canadian Prairies for my work.  It all began with a small point and shoot camera that my work gave me to take photos of the projects I was working on, and while on my travels I also took some photos of the local scenery, old buildings and when I could, some wildlife or nature photos.  It wasn’t long before I wanted to be able to do more with my photography and soon purchased my first DSLR camera and a couple of lenses.  Back then I didn’t really know much about what camera manufacturer would be better for me and after doing a lot of online searches, I ended up getting an Olympus E-330 and shortly after upgrading to an Olympus E-3.

 

Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel Carrying its Young in it's Mouth

Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel Carrying its Young in it's Mouth from 2008

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The Owls of Manitoba

Out of nineteen Owls that live throughout North America, twelve of these have been found to live part time, full time or accidentally in Manitoba.  Of those that live in Manitoba, eight can be found here year round and four of these are only found in our Province during the Spring, Summer and the Fall.  Of these four owls, the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is an accidental visitor to Manitoba, normally blown in by strong southerly winds, and does not stay or nest in our Province.  The other three owls that reside in Manitoba during the Spring, Summer and Fall are the Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia), the Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus) and the Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus). 

Snowy Owl casting a shadow as it flies past me     
Snowy Owl, passing by me as it hunts along the frozen Manitoba Prairie. 

 

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Manitoba Important Bird Areas (IBA)

Manitoba is home to 36 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) that cover more than 15,680 km2. From the shores of Hudson Bay to the mixed-grass prairie in the southwest corner of the province, each IBA has its own significance to birds and biodiversity. Located on public and private land, many of Manitoba’s IBAs have no formal protection. Favorite birding destinations like Delta Marsh, Oak Hammock Marsh, Churchill and Whitewater Lake all have IBA status. (Source:  Manitoba IBA Website

Of these 36 IBAs, I have been to 10 of them, all located in the southern portion of Manitoba, and the ones that I visit most frequently are as follows:  Whitewater Lake IBA, Oak Lake/Plum Lakes IBA, Southwest Manitoba Mixed-Grass Prairie IBA, all in southwest Manitoba.  And then closer to Winnipeg I also often visit North West & East Shoal Lakes IBA, Netley-Libau Marsh IBA, Riverton Sandy Bar IBA and Oak Hammock Marsh WMA.  Each of these offers similar but unique wildlife and birding experience to me.

 

Swainson's Hawk Flying High OverheadSwainson's Hawk Flying High Overhead

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Lest We Forget ~ WWI: The Great War

A red poppy on a banner with soldiers in combat gear walking across the battlefield

Lest We Forget

World War I, The First World War, The Great War to end all wars, took place from July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918.  Today we remember our war dead, the many heroes who gave of themselves so that others could be free.  Canada, being a member of the British Commonwealth, joined the war and sent our military to Europe to fight and defend the freedom of all nations around the world.   Some 619,636 Canadians enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the war, and approximately 424,000 served overseas. Of these men and women, 59,544 members of the CEF died during the war, 51,748 of them as a result of enemy action.

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