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Northern hawk owl grabs birding attention

WILDLIFE -- Spokane wildlife photographer Tom Munson hunted the West Plains with his camera Monday and used a big lens and stacks of tele-converters to bag a very long distance image of a northern hawk owl. The critter from boreal forests has sent Spokane birders scrambling to add bird -- roaming south of its normal range -- to their year list.

See a much clearer version on Munson's excellent website ( featuring local bird rarities.
(While you're at it, check out the stunning photo he made of the Ross's gull that made headlines from Okanogan County last month.)
On Wednesday, birder Mike Britton got closer to the hawk owl and made the video above.
The still image of the northern hawk owl was made from a distance of about 350 yards, "so a huge crop and not a very good image," Munson said. But he got it -- a photo of a very shy rare bird for the region.
"I stacked a 2X and 1.4 converters so that made the lens 2184mm," he said. Don't be surprised if he stalks the bird for a better shot before it heads back north.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Terry Little of Mead filed the following report of his FIVE OWL day west of Spokane, complete with location of the northern hawk owl plus a couple of snowy owls and some other finds that took him into the night:

Terry Little reports:

My friend Bob Purdy joined me this afternoon as we searched for the N Hawk Owl on the West Plains in Spokane County. After arriving at the location (intersection of Prewitt and Mclaughlin, n of Coulee Hite Rd) about 2:45, the owl showed up in a few minutes sitting right above the farm house.

After viewing the bird for a while with other birders, we made our way out west into Lincoln County. We found our first Snowy Owl along Morrison Rd between Janett and Ziemer Rd. A few minutes later, while watching our second Prairie Falcon, we discovered a second Snowy Owl sitting out in a field south of Morrison Rd. The Praire Falcon saw the Snowy about the time we did and flew out and started a fight with the owl that we enjoyed watching.

At dusk, we found a Great Horned Owl along Rocklyn Rd. After dark, we traveled down into Hawk Creek Canyon where we had a nice response from a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Later in the evening we slipped into Mill Canyon and called in two Western Screech Owls, which gave us some great looks. They can be tough in Lincoln County. The screech owls were fun because we found them in a place where I had suspected there should be screech owls, but never had the opportunity to try for them.

A five owl day - lots of fun.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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