As you read yesterday Will and I had a marvelous morning (and early afternoon) of birding in the north country on Saturday. Driving back through the Adirondacks we saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers in open water in the town of Saranac Lake. Other than that we didn’t really see anything interesting on our drive to Fort Edward, home to extensive open country and probably the best place to see Short-eared Owls in the state.

Short-eared Owls

Short-eared Owls on haybales

Fort Edward did not disappoint. Short-eared Owls were everywhere! They were perched on fenceposts, snowbanks, haybales, and utility polls. When they weren’t perched they were hunting over the fields, their extremely long wings and headless appearence making them readily discernible amid the Northern Harriers and Rough-legged Hawks. The owls have roosted on a quiet country cul-de-sac for years and have become quite the attraction to birders. We counted at least five other carloads of folks watching, photographing and just plain ogling these sensational short-ears. There were so many camera lenses pointed at a single owl at one point that I expected it to pull a Sean Penn and pummel the paparrazi.

Short-eared Owl in flight

Short-eared owl in flight

Short-eared Owl in flight

While awed by the Short-eared Owl display Will and I wanted to see what else was around. Fort Edward’s extensive open country also held Snow Buntings and Horned Larks (the latter in large numbers in a recently manured field…mmmm…manure). A single Eastern Meadowlark flushed flashing its white tail corners and American Tree Sparrows were common in small flocks along the side of the road.

Perchance, if thou art ever in upstate New York late in the winter get thee to Fort Edward (who else likes random archaic sentences?). You will not regret it and even non-birders will enjoy the spectacle of owls everywhere.

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.