Great Horned Owl

One of the cool things about photography is the second look.   Whether the image is an urban landscape or a wildlife shot like this image of Dudley, the chance to take a more detailed look later can reveal things you didn’t notice when you were focused on capturing the moment.  With owls we tend to focus on their amazing eyes, and when setting up your shot it’s key to make sure you have good focus on the eyes.  It was only after reviewing the shots later I realized I had a good shot of the talons. 

Great Horned Owl Talons

They are the primary tools raptors use for dispatching their prey.  Close inspection will reveal how deadly those talons are.  Razor sharp and terribly efficient at exerting force, they are what set the raptors apart from other predators.  Bunny rabbits and other small mammals don’t stand a chance.

Dudley is a Great Horned Owl who lives at the Carolina Raptor Center in North Carolina.  Rescued as a fledgling, he was never taught to hunt and believes humans are designed to bring owls food.  Owls that are human imprinted like Dudley can’t survive in the wild.

Now he serves the greater good by allowing children to get a close look at beautiful wild creatures.  And he’s pretty good at posing on Photographer’s Day at the Raptor Center.  That allows us to share our images and hopefully promote awareness of the natural world.

This image was captured with a Sony A77 and Sigma 120-400mm lens at 120mm.  f/4.5 and  ISO 400 at 1/13th.  It was just after 7:00 am and the sun was not yet over the trees which accounts for the soft light.  Dudley is used to humans so it was possible to get close.  Like most owls he tends to focus on something and will stay motionless, often for several seconds.  That allows the patient photographer to get a decent shot under less than ideal light levels.  Dudley is an awesome owl.

Update:

A closeup of Dudley’s Talons should complete the picture.