A pair of northern hawk owls check out the view from atop a prospective nesting cavity. Hawk owls, like other owls, do not build a nest but use natural cavities and bowled out snags. The male establishes a territory that includes potential nests sites, but it seems to be the female who makes the final choice of snags.
After settling on another snag, the female incubates her eggs. Hawk owls nest early, usually in late April and will endure winter conditions.
Check out my photo story about northern hawk owls in the May 2018 issue of RANGER RICK, Just click the link below.
Very few birch still have unshed leaves during the long Alaskan winter and most are just too high for the hares to reach. But this winter extra heavy snows, more than three feet deep in places, brought a limited amount of these prefered leaves within reach of the hares.
Alder is on a snowshoes “short list” of favorite winter foods. Of course leaves and small branches are prefered.
This snowshoe hare feeds on the bark of alpine birch. Hares often dig deep into the snow to reach the small twigs of blueberry. And, the large number of willow species found in these northern boreal forests are another important winter food.
All summer and fall dall rams have shunned the groups of ewes and lambs. The rams prefer the high country where they hang out in small bachelor bands. With the approach of winter their association begins to fray as they begin to sort out a pecking order. The rams stand in tight groups, displaying their massive curls trying to intimidate. They kick, growl, shove, and finally engage in dramatic displays of head butting. For the most part dominance has been been sorted out when they join the herds of ewes and lambs already on the winter range.Dall rams Continue reading →
Red squirrel has cached black spruce cones in an old flicker hole.
I am still on my backyard safari. This is where I do some of my favorite work. I have had professional photographers scoff at the mere suggestion of doing in-depth work with such “insignificant” species as the red squirrels, voles and the like. But I happen to enjoy photographing all species of wildlife including red squirrels. The idea of a backyard safari is to give one the incentive to compile a complete coverage of the wildlife in your immediate surroundings as well as gaining experience turning photographic potential into great photographs.
Red squirrel pry the scales off a spruce cone and feeds on the tiny seeds.
Red squirrel jumping.
The red squirrel jumping straight on is a tough one. I found a place where the squirrel routinely jumps form one branch to another. The distance is just over three feet and it takes less than a second. The problem lies in the tiny amount of depth of field with the 560 mm telephoto lens. I use a Nikon 200-400 lens with a 1.4 tele-extender and pre-focus at about 4 meters. There is less than one inch that will be in sharp focus. I manage to get off about three frames each time the squirrel jumps and only about one in fifty photos will be in focus. What that boils down to is about one photo every four days will be a keeper. I could increase the percent of successful shots by adding a trigger which trips the shutter as the squirrel crosses a beam of infra-red light. Maybe next week.
One of the few sets of snowshoe hare tracks I have seen in the backyard this winter. They are currently at the low-end of their population cycle.
The male boreal owl is still calling from the flicker holes but not every night. I suspect he is also singing his territorial songs from other possible nesting sites in the area.
The male boreal owl begins his territorial songs just before dark.
The aurora borealis usually begins with a band of green, glowing light in the northeast.