Most people who know me well say that I am not an excitable person. But the first time I ever saw a Northern Hawk Owl I was so excited I could not speak. I was probably 14 or 15 and stuffed into the back of a tiny two-door car on a birding expedition. In the front were two 70 year old ladies, one of them my first birding mentor. A fog of heavy perfume filled the car as they excitedly chattered and I sat quiet and a little bored in the back.
Then far ahead I spotted a relatively large bird on top of a tall spruce. “Probably a crow,” I thought to myself as we pulled closer and closer. Suddenly it moved its body to show a distinctive silhouette and I knew immediately that it was a bird I had only dreamed of seeing, a bird from a far away place called the Boreal.
But I couldn’t seem to say what it was. All I could do was to extend my arm towards the windshield, my finger pointing toward the bird, and stammer,” It’s aâ€¦it’s aâ€¦ it’s aâ€¦”-
Inez pulled the car over immediately turned, wide-eyed to look at me.
“Jeff, what is it?”
Two wonderful grandmotherly faces stared at me with concern.
I gulped. “It’s aâ€¦aâ€¦it’s a hawk owl!”
I’m not alone in the level of excitement that a Northern Hawk Owlâ€”a 100% Boreal bird -can generate when one makes its way to southern Canada or the northern U.S.
A Northern Hawk Owl was discovered several weeks ago only a 40-minute drive from where we live in Central Maine. Already hundreds of people had enjoyed watching it.
Here’s a quick recording I shot through the telescope:
We decided to take our six-year-old son and his buddy down to see it too.
Northern Hawk Owls are usually unfazed by humans. That may be because there is a good chance that they may have never seen our species in their remote Boreal breeding grounds. Unlike most owls, they also hunt throughout the day and prefer to sit in the open on the top of a tall perch.
All of that makes them easy to see.
The kids were thrilled of course. My wife (alias Mama Bird) has also written a fun piece about the experience which you can see at her blog at:
Check out this video of the kids watching the owl through the telescope: