Owl Quest: Finding and Photographing North America’s Owls

Owl Quest: Finding and Photographing North America’s Owls

Date: February 26, 2022
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Meeting Place: Zoom Webinar
Leader: Mark & Marcia Wilson
Price: 5

Hosted by Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT), Mark & Marcia Wilson are adapting their live owl program to bring you a very special virtual event. Owls capture the imagination with their unique habits, silent flight, and nocturnal lifestyles. To learn about these curious creatures and see owls up close from the comfort of your own home, join "Owl Quest" live streamed on Saturday, Feb. 26th from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Start your Owl Quest with a fascinating slide show as the Wilsons photograph 19 species of owls to meet a publisher's deadline for Mark's first book, Owling: Enter the Mysterious World of the Birds of the Night. With more than 250 photos, this 120-page hardcover book was the culmination of a long simmering dream to produce a science-based book about all 19 species of owls that breed in North America.

With this fast-paced slide show, viewers of all ages will enjoy accompanying the Wilsons on multiple forays to gather the stunning photos for Mark's award-winning book. The American Association for the Advancement of Science chose Owling as 2020's Best Science Book for Middle Grade Students. Just like when the Wilsons would bring live owls to Harwich that fascinated people of all ages, their new virtual Owl Quest will inspire kids and adults alike.

Snowy Owls nesting on Alaska's North Slope, Great Gray Owls plunge diving in Minnesota powder in sub-zero temperatures, Burrowing Owl families hunkered down in 120-degree days amidst the Arizona summer, and many more species---all arrive in vivid, full color splendor with Wilson's camera.
If you have tried to find or photograph an owl, then you know it isn't an easy task, especially if you want a clear view of the owl with a highlight in the owl's eye, an uncluttered background, and a bird that's relaxed and comfortable. Mark will discuss why flash photography for owls is often not the best choice for quality photos and the welfare of the owl. He will talk cameras and lenses and explain why your phone's camera isn't ideal for capturing quality owl photos (but he'll share a tip of how to use your phone for close-up photos of a distant owl without disturbing it). How close can one ethically approach an owl? What are the signs that your presence is stressing an owl? Should you post your owl sighting on ebird or social media?

In short, viewers will be treated to a whirlwind tour of the continent's most fascinating, enigmatic, and often difficult-to-find birds. Come shiver with the Wilsons in the arctic and sweat with them in the desert as they search for owls.

After the slide show, Marcia will introduce the audience to six live owls that viewers could find in New England. The live owl line-up will include the super cute Northern Saw-whet Owl and the striking Snowy Owl. Locally found Great-horned Owl, red and gray phase Screech Owls, and Barred Owl will also visit virtually. Marcia will lead viewers in a hooting lesson sure to help cure cabin fever.

Based in New England, wildlife photojournalist-author Mark Wilson and teacher-naturalist Marcia Wilson have been giving live owl programs for 28 years and have spoken to more than half a million people. They live with and care for 15 non-releasable raptors which at the moment includes 13 owls. Both Mark and Marcia have BS degrees in biology and have worked in the conservation field for decades.

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