Ann Flower of Grand Forks shared a photo of two white-tail bucks, which she took last Thursday in the Fox Farm area north of Grand Forks. Flower says seven bucks — six with three or more points per side — were in her yard one recent evening. The bucks are almost mirror images of each other.
I was surprised to see the bucks still had their antlers, as people who hunt for shed antlers almost as avidly as they hunt for deer already have found a number of sheds this winter. Bucks generally lose their antlers by midwinter, though they occasionally can linger as long as March.
Chances are, it won’t be long before the bucks Flower photographed lose their headgear and begin the process of growing new antlers for the coming year.
Jovita Smith of East Grand Forks also shared a couple of photos — in this case of a great horned owl she spotted Sunday afternoon.
“My husband and I heard some crows around 12:30 p.m., so we looked outside and saw something fly away,” Smith wrote in an email. “We grabbed my camera and got in my car and went for a drive. Within blocks from our home we saw a great horned owl in the trees. It was pretty amazing to see and worth standing in the cold to get some pictures.”
Great gray owls have been less common this winter. The large owls, which typically winter in the boreal forests of Canada, occasionally are driven south during winters when rodents and other food sources are in short supply.
This winter, apparently, great grays are finding the winters farther north to their liking.
I saw my first great gray of the winter on Wednesday while returning from a fishing trip to Oak Island on the Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods. The owl was perched atop a powerline pole along the gravel portion of Manitoba Highway 308 near Moose Lake Provincial Park north of Sprague, Man.
A few winters back — I think it was the winter of 2013 — we saw perhaps 20 great gray owls along the same stretch of road while heading to the Angle for a fishing trip.
Whether it’s one bird or 20, sightings of great gray owls always are a treat.