Joseph V Higbee.com

Spring Creek area, Wallowa-Whitman NF, Oregon

May/June, 2005


This map shows the location where the photos in this section were taken. Like all photos on this website, clicking on it will bring up a bigger photo in an overlay. Clicking the X in the upper right hand corner of the overlay will collapse it.

Map

This area is open pine forest. Under the trees is grassy with little brush or downfall. The forest is interspersed with meadows. With help from the USFS it is an ideal spot for Great Gray Owls. My visits in the spring of 2005 were among the most memorable of anyplace I've been.

Nestbox Nestbox

These are the two nest boxes I visited. These photos were taken the 9th and 10th of May. As you can see, there are as yet no young ones visible.

Great Gray Owl fledgling Great Gray Owl fledgling Great Gray Owl fledgling Great Gray Owl fledgling

When I returned to the first nest box on the 2nd of June, it was empty. Mt disappointment was so great I almost said something foul. But, regaining my composure I began walking a large circle around it. About 3/4 around I looked back to search the trees behind me and almost went into shock. This young fellow was about a foot higher than my head and I was about 8' beyond where I had just walked underneath him. Eagle eye has never been one of my nicknames! I had to move away in order to gain enough distance for my camera/lens to focus. These four photos were taken in the next ten minutes, along with about 25 others. He became quite complacent but when I began to slowly move, he perked back up.

Great Gray Owl fledgling Great Gray Owl fledgling Great Gray Owl fledgling Great Gray Owl fledgling

As I began to move away, I put the 1.4X teleconverter on the camera and positioned the lens to landscape mode making these photos look like I was closer when actually I was further away. All of these photos are full frame taken with a Canon EOS 20D and EF 500mm f4L IS USM lens. From the first photo to the last was 40 minutes and I took over 70 photos.

Great Gray Owl Great Gray Owl Great Gray Owl

The left photo is a crop that I have printed 12"x16" and hangs on the wall in my entry. The middle is the same size as the original. They were taken the evening of the same day as the photos above but near a different nest site. The photo on the right was taken at the other nest site the following morning a little before 6 AM.

Great Gray Owls Great Gray Owls Great Gray Owls Great Gray Owls Great Gray Owls Great Gray Owls

These last 6 photos are a sequence showing a male, presumably, handing a vole off to the female who then gives it to the youngster to attack and eat just like a grown-up.And so ended my visit to this great location.
   The owls are still there and information concerning them can be had from the USFS office in La Grande, Oregon.

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