Reader photo: A Barred Owl makes a magnificent subject on a frigid Minnesota day

5/27/2014 | 2

Barred Owl (Strix varia), Grand Rapids, Minnesota, March 4, 2014, 2:45 p.m. by Kevin Yopp

Barred Owl (Strix varia), Grand Rapids, Minnesota, March 4, 2014, 2:45 p.m. by Kevin Yopp

The -20°F temperature in north-central Minnesota in early March didn’t seem to bother this Barred Owl. Kevin Yopp of Grand Rapids saw it regularly in his yard during the brutally cold winter of 2013-14. The bird liked to hunt mice and voles that had burrowed under the snow to eat sunflower seeds dropped from a feeder.

Yopp didn’t have to deal with the weather, however, to take his picture. He shot through a double-pane window from inside his den and posted the photo to our Backyard Gallery. It was the first time he had caught the bird hunting.

Kevin Yopp

Kevin Yopp

“Mostly, my wife and I would see the owl perched on the branch in the sunshine,” he says. “On this particular day, the owl was more active, and we watched as it launched itself from the tree down to the snow and grab its prey, successfully, at least three times.”

Yopp retired a few years ago from a career in marketing at a construction-equipment manufacturer, a role that required him to take lots of photos of heavy machinery. Recently, he has turned his camera toward nature, especially the birds and mammals living in the woods adjacent to his yard. He says BirdWatching magazine is “an inspiration to take my birdwatching and photography even further.”

Yopp used the following equipment and settings to take the photograph:

Camera: Nikon D-300
Lens: Nikkor AF-S VR 70-200mm 2.8 zoom lens
Settings: Shutter-priority mode, 1/1000, f/5.0, ISO 200, Dynamic AF with 3D tracking
Light: Natural
Format: RAW converted to JPG in Photoshop CS
Adjustments: Cropped

A version of this article appeared in the June 2014 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe.

  • Leslie Jansen

    probably baited it in with a mouse!

    • Matt Mendenhall

      The bird was not baited. It was hunting rodents in the photographer’s yard.