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Owl Watching - The Birdtitude Beginners Guide

Owl Watching - The Birdtitude Beginners Guide

While regular bird-watching might seem an easy affair, the thought of watching a potentially dangerous bird of prey like the owl can get a bit intimidating, especially for bird-watching beginners. Add to that the fact owls are much easier to find at night than during the day, the concept of owl watching can get downright terrifying.


This doesn’t have to be the case, however. With the right guidance and by knowing the do's and don’ts, owl watching (also called owling) can become an activity just as wonderful and danger-free as every other bird-watching activity. 


And when it comes to finding out the do’s and don’ts of owl watching, nothing spells it out any better than a beginner’s guide. New to owl watching? The Birdtitude Beginner’s Guide to Owl Watching is all you need! Here you would find out all you need to know about owling, when to go owling, and what to do when you spot an owl. 


The Birdtitude Beginner’s Guide: Getting Started With Owl Watching

Owl, Owling, Owl Watching

So you are an absolute beginner to owling and are looking for a guide on how to get started? Here’s the number one thing you need to know: Do more of the watching and less of anything else.

Like most birds, owls don’t like being startled. If you ever do stumble upon the chance to watch these birds of prey, regardless of where the first thing to remember is to not startle them. Whatever you do, try to be as discreet as possible.

With that said, one can not just keep hoping to "stumble upon the chance to watch these birds of prey." While it is possible to get the rare chance of finding owls to watch without actually looking for them, it rarely ever happens. Knowing when, where, and how to find owls to watch is the next thing you need to know as a beginner to owling. 

When Can You Find Owls?

Owl, Owling, Owl Watching

If you thought finding the perfect owl-themed items to purchase in order to show your undying appreciation for these birds wasn’t easy, wait till you try to find an owl during the day!


Finding owls can be a bit more demanding than you might like. Being nocturnal birds, owls are basically creatures of the night. The night is when they hunt and are generally most active, so the night is the best time to go owl watching.


This is not to say that these birds are completely inactive during the day, however, and quite a few species, like the short-eared owl, can even be seen about during the day. If you are looking to watch these birds by day, dusk or dawn would be your best bet as this is when owls are usually their most active (during the day).


Provided below is a guide to owling, both at night when they are more abundant, and during the day when they are more tricky to find.

Owling at night: Who would be your best friend?

Owl, Owling, Owl Watching


Generally, getting out at night is by far, the easier choice. At these hours, these birds are usually at their most active and can be seen more frequently going about and in more numbers. You could find them anywhere from the trees at your backyard to the streetlight down the pole. All you need do is get out of the house and pay a bit of attention to your surroundings. You're bound to see or hear one sooner than later.


Owl watching at night does pose a number of challenges, the first of which is visibility. You do not want to be stumbling around at night, trying to follow the sound of an owl to some unknown location in the woods. You also do not want to go around carrying a flashlight through the woods at night since this usually attracts creatures you do not want to attract and scares off those you do. So if you decide to go owling at night, a full-moon would mostly be your best buddy.

Owling during the day: Where can you find owls?

Owl, Owling, Owl Watching


Rather go owling during the day? This is still very much possible, though you’d likely need to get in some more work. Unlike at night, you are not likely to see owls flying about during the day. To find owls during the day, you would need to actively go out to search for them. The best way to do this is by hiking.


Here’s the thing about finding owls during the day: Patience and persistence are key.


Since owls are usually less active during the day, most people only come across them either in their nests or simply perched on a tree or rock somewhere resting. Chances are, this is also how you would find them too, so make sure always to keep your eyes out.


This is not to say that finding owls is all about luck, though. You also have a huge role to play. While luck might bring you the opportunity to spot these birds during the day, it is left to you to make use of this opportunity. What you do after spotting an owl on your owling expedition during the day would determine how successful that expedition would be.


What To Do When You Spot An Owl?

Owl, Owling, Owl Watching

1.    Keep your cool

The worst thing you can do is cry out for joy and end up sending the owl flying. If you find an owl, keep your cool. Do not get overly excited.

2.    Maintain stealth at all cost

Most times you spot these birds though, it would be from afar off. You might need to get closer for a better look. When doing this, make sure you remain stealthy. Do your best to make as little noise as humanly possible. Again, you do not want to scare these birds away.

3.    Do more of the watching and less of anything else

Here’s the final tip. As a beginner to owling, it is advisable to simply watch on your first few expeditions, at least do some watching before you whip out that camera. Take the time to actually enjoy your first few owling experiences. The videoing and picture taking can start later.


What have we learned?

So let’s have a quick recap, shall we?


  • Owl watching does not have to be a dangerous or terrifying activity with a good guide to owl watching like the Birdtitude beginner’s guide, owling can be just as enjoyable and danger free as every other form of bird watching.
  • Owls are nocturnal birds and are most active at night. The night of a full moon is the best time to go owl watching.
  • If you would rather go owling during the day, dawn and dusk are the best times to set out.
  • You can still go owl watching at other hours of the day, though you would have to put in some more work.
  • When you spot an owl, get your ninja mode on and get as stealthy as possible, so you don't spook the bird.
  • Do more watching and less of anything else. Simply enjoy your first few moments of watching the bird(s) before you think about getting the camera.

Go out and actually do it!

So there you have it─the major need-to-knows for every owl-watching beginner need in order to get started with owling.

 Simply knowing what to do is not enough, however, and knowledge gained is only truly useful once put into practice. Don’t just know what to do. Go out and actually do it! Join an owling expedition today and put what you’ve learned into action. Who knows? You might even find that you’re a natural!


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