Bird photographer Rick Morris hits the jackpot with snowy owl enounter

by Linda Hubbard on January 4, 2023

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. That’s where Menlo Park resident — and bird photographer — Rick Morris found himself while visiting family in Los Angeles for New Years.

You may have heard about a snowy owl — a North Pole native — taking up residence around Christmas in the suburb of Cypress, far south of its normal range.

Tipped by a fellow bird photographer about the snowy owl’s location and joined by one of his SoCal friends, Rick drove around the neighborhood searching the rooftops. “It was funny because we saw a lot of cars driving slowly down the streets as if they were looking for Christmas tree lights — but it was daylight!”

Finally spotting the owl, Rick and his friend were far from alone. They were 150 or so people gathered when they arrived around 3:00 pm, including photographers with their 400 to 600 mm lenses along with birders looking through binoculars, watching every move and every turn the owl made.

“A few times the owl stood up and did the shimmy and shaked its feathers and you could hear all the shutter clicks,” Rick says. “Everyone laughed when that three-second feather shaking display was over, and the shutter clicking stopped.”

As 5:00 pm approached, the birders and photographers were all waiting for it to jump off the roof and fly away as this was the shot every bird photographer waits for.

“There’s nothing better than a bird in flight shot, and the snowy owl did not disappoint — flying toward us and to the left of us,” he says.

To photograph the snowy owl, Rick used his Nikon D850 DSLR with a 500mm Nikkor 5.6pf prime lens — hand-held per usual.

Photos by Rick Morris (c) 2023

One Comment

S Williamson January 05, 2023 at 10:43 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! Well done Rick.

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