Road Hunting in Winter

I often travel on personal “auto” tours to view and photograph wildlife in winter. More often than not, this is the only practical way to capture wildlife images while minimizing hardship – to photographer and wildlife alike. My loops incorporate secondary roads and parking areas near good wildlife habitat (ideally, a variety of food sources in close proximity to dense evergreen cover; sunny, south-facing slopes are critical winter habitat as well). Specific routes depend on snow depth, time of day, road conditions and so on. Valley farms are the key component of most loops.


Rough-legged Hawk hunting farm fields (my first photo of this stunning species)


Mature Eastern Wild Turkey gobbler searching for wild apple drops in a storm


Wild turkeys foraging for waste grain (corn) during a January thaw (1 of 2)



Snowy Owl at rest in corn stubble (1 of 2)



A failed Snowy Owl search – but a landscape memory for the trip home

Photos by NB Hunter (January 4 – 11, 2018). All Rights Reserved.

10 thoughts on “Road Hunting in Winter

  1. I think it’s funny, too, that we both posted about the same technique, Nick. Your photos are really a joy, and the birds are exciting, especially the rough-legged hawk (a bird I have only seen one or two times if that). My favorite photo is the snowy owl close-up, it’s a winner. Thanks for taking us down the road with you.

  2. We seem to have quite a few rough legged hawks around here. We saw one on nearly every fence post on the way to Portland. Unfortunately, stopping on the interstate wasn’t an option. Later I had a chance at trying to get a shot, but the light was terrible. Love the one you captured. It’s easy to see their ‘rough’ legs.

  3. Thanks for posting the “landscape memory”….I think landscapes are difficult to photograph, so I really appreciate this view. The wildlife is great too.

  4. It’s a treat to see these extraordinary scenes which you capture so beautifully and how the bird species endure the snowy conditions. Are snowy owls quite rare and on the red list of endangered species? They are so well camouflaged with their colouring against the snowy background must be a challenge to spot.

    • Thanks Liz. Snowy owls captivate me and when there is an “irruption” of owls southward out of Canada I immediately start searching the tundra-like farm fields in this area. The irruptions coincide with abundant small mammal prey and high reproductive success on northern summer habitats. Subsequently, most of the owls we see in the south are wandering juveniles. I now follow Project Snowstorm which is a blog published by a research team that traps, tags and monitors snowy owls in eastern North America. They install tiny transmitters that enable them to monitor movement and behavior throughout most of the year. Fascinating stuff. Camouflaged they are, and many times I have held binocs to a round mound in a snow-covered field, only to discover that it was just a clump of plowed earth. Fortunately I’m usually alone and avoid the embarrassment of seeing imaginary owls!

      • Lovely to get all the information and i checked out the Project Snowstorm on Facebook. Being about to track the tagged individuals really adds to their story. The scenes of destruction from the intense storms really drives home how vulnerable birds, fauna are in getting through winter. Brilliant info. Thanks Nick.

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