Know Your Subject

Whether you are a beginner or an expert at wildlife photography, you will always benefit from learning more about the animals that you want to photograph. Simple information like what eco-systems a species is more likely to be found in or what times of the year you’re more likely to see a species are essential to know. More detailed information would include what warning signs a species will use to say that they’re unhappy with how close you are to them or what different calls signify.

One example of this would be the differences in the species of owl found in Iowa: Barred, Great Horned, Eastern Screech, Short-eared, Long-eared, Snowy, Great Gray, Barn, Burrowing, and Northern Saw-whet. Only five of these species like wooded areas. If you are looking for a Short-eared Owl in the woods, you will never find one because they are ground-roosting prairie raptors.

Northern Saw-whet Owls migrate to Iowa in late-October to November and remain here through mid-March. These tiny owls are easy to miss because they are roughly the size of a pop can. Larger birds are the predators for this species; so, they are not likely to fly if you walk by their small coniferous tree. Cedar trees are a favored perch for Saw-whets, but they will perch in larger trees as well.

Now that you know where and what to look for, you might find one too.

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