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In pictures: VPD retiree captures shots of short-eared owl in flight
An owl is pictured in a photo submitted to CTV News Vancouver by photographer Jon Lavoie.
VANCOUVER -- Looking for a break from coronavirus coverage? Longing for the days when you can once again roam free?
Here's an opportunity for a brief moment of escapism. Photos captured in Metro Vancouver show some of the region's wildlife in their habitat, including the short-eared owl.
A former member of the Vancouver Police Department, who is now a nature photographer and avid birder, shared his shots with CTV News Vancouver.
Jon Lavoie says he witnessed the short-eared owl at Boundary Bay, in Delta, B.C., over the weekend.
He said the species usually hunts for food in low light, so they're most active during the early morning hours and in the evening.
The photos he captured were while the bird was hunting.
"The short-eared owl usually flies about 10 to 20 feet off the ground, always searching for food," he said.
Their main source of food is small mammals, including mice and voles.
Lavoie said he's seen this particular owl in the area often, and has several photos of it.
He's watched as the owl, which he says has excellent vision, soars overhead, swooping down into the grass when it spots its prey.
If it misses, it flies back up and circles around, waiting for another chance.
"I've seen more misses than hits," he said.
And the owl doesn't appear to be alone. Lavoie said he's noticed a harrier hawk often following nearby.
"The reason being, once the owl catches its prey, the lazy harrier tries to steal it," he said.
"If the owl drops its prey, the harrier swiftly moves in and takes it."
Lavoie, who says retirement has allowed him to pursue photography on a larger scale, shared several photos he's captured with his Nikon 500mm lens.
"These birds are somewhat used to people, but their space and habitats should be respected to ensure they are not disturbed," he said.
"Thus the equipment that allows that personal space."
He said he usually sets up in one spot, then waits. Often, his shots are of the sides of the birds, but on rare occasion, he captures a bird flying straight at the camera.
Here are some of Lavoie's favourite owl shots, including a rare northern hawk owl he photographed in Maple Ridge.