Eastern screech owls are some of the most fascinating creatures. Reputed for being experts of camouflage, these nocturnal birds are generally found in the woodlands and forests, along the eastern stretch of North America. They have distinctly patterned, ash-colored plumage that acts as a disguise against bigger predators. Scotland-born nature photographer Graham McGeorge is captivated by these creatures, and he has taken the time to create a series of amazing images of the birds shot in Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.
At daytime, the eastern screech owls perch usually in naturally-formed divots in tree trunks or in holes etched by woodpeckers. In the evening, however, they become active, making whiny, static trills that go on and on for three to five seconds per screech.
Gently perched on branches near the ground, they can swoop down onto the prey typically consisting of grasshoppers, beetles, spiders or snails. They are quite diminutive in size and are frequently preyed on by bigger owls, like spotted owls, great horned owls, spotted owls, or even animals like mink, raccoon, and skunk. Whenever on the defensive, the eastern screech owl sits motionless in the cavities of tree trunks, and as one can see is quite stealthy when they do this.
McGeorge has been returning to local swamps and woodlands to get these images. One of his most popular collections consists of magnificent pictures of these birds, flawlessly camouflaged inside tree divots. The collection has bagged him a number of photography awards, most notable of which is the Merit Prize of the 2013 National Geographic Travel Contest.
A passionate McGeorge said, “Ethics is a must. There are many wildlife photographers that bait owls in order to fill their photographic needs. Baiting is very harmful to the health of an owl. To photograph owls in the wild and unbaited you must have a lot of patience, a keen eye and a good ear. Look for holes either made by woodpeckers or old decaying cavities. These are good places to start…[I] Iove to photograph owlets or baby owls. Their expressions are priceless and are guaranteed to touch your heart.”
See his incredible images of the Eastern screech owl here.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Graham McGeorge / Barcroft Media
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