I stepped out onto the deck one morning to see why the ravens were making such a fuss so close to the house. As I stood there, one of them flew out of the tree over my head and into another one not far away. He was soon followed by a very large, grey bird, which turned out to be a Great Grey Owl.
We've heard this guy making noise in the surrounding woods many times in the two years since we first started coming here, but have never laid eyes on him until now. (I've been told by a local expert on birds of prey that if you've ever been for a walk in the woods, you've been within 100 feet of an owl, and just didn't know it).
I don't know if this was a turf war or what, but the ravens were not impressed that the owl was in the area, and they spent a long time hooting and hollering, trying to scare him off (these photos were taken from inside the house, so they aren't very clear).
It's difficult to tell from the photos, but he was really big, probably about two feet tall (the ravens are huge too, about 3 times the size of a common crow).
After a while, they finally gave up and left him alone, at which point we went out to see if we could get a closer look.
He didn't seem to be at all bothered by our presence, and just sat there while the kids and I gawped in amazement and snapped endless photos of him. He sat in that spot for the rest of the afternoon until night fell, at which point he left without any of the ceremony that accompanied his arrival.
It has apparently been a hard winter for owls in our area, as we've experienced record amounts of snow, making it difficult for them to hunt (and the snow stayed much longer where we are than in other places). Bare ground was just finally starting to show through the snow when we saw him, which might explain why he was being less careful about staying hidden.
A fellow on my husband's vanpool who raises chickens has apparently had birds taken by these owls, so we're going to have to take precautions to guard against that, or we might not be so happy the next time we see him.