I have a soft spot for this particular Blakiston’s fish owl. I first discovered her when she was just a few days old, covered in a bright white down, still blind, and unreservedly helpless. I saw her again the following winter when the vulnerable chick had bloomed into a confident juvenile. She pounced for fish in the shallow water and scraped at the pebbly river bottom hoping to dislodge a hibernating frog. And here she was another year later, at the age of two, still living with her parents.
This unusually long pre-dispersal period—the time between when an owl leaves the nest then strikes out to find its own territory—is a testament to the hard lives these globally-endangered birds eke out in the harsh climate of the Russian Far East. For comparison, young great horned owls in North America leave their parents’ territories just a few months after first fluttering out of the nest.
Fishing for a living isn’t easy, especially if the rivers you rely on are largely frozen for a good portion of the year.
This text originally posted 01 October 2014 at: