How to become an owl watcher in the NWT

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Learning about owls and their behaviours and habitats is a fun part of becoming a skilled owl watcher. Being patient and getting to know the area you are in will help you find them. Owls have excellent hearing and eyesight and are easily startled by sudden movements and loud noises. Once you locate an owl, avoid direct eye contact and move slowly and quietly.

Owls are best seen during dawn or dusk when they are more active and easily spotted. When you locate an owl make sure to use binoculars, a spotting scope, or camera to get a closer look without disturbing the bird.

Sometimes it is easier to first locate owls by the behaviour of other birds. Watch and listen to birds in the area you are in. Smaller birds and especially crows often flock together around and direct their loud alarm calls towards a roosting owl, a behaviour called mobbing, to drive the owl away from the area. This behaviour can direct you to where the owl is perching.

Learning to distinguish the distinct characteristic calls or songs of owls is easy by listening to recordings (see Helpful Resources in guide linked below). Some owl calls can be heard from up to three-five kms. Cup your hands behind your ears to help hear owl calls.

Wear quiet clothing such as cotton, wool or leather; some nylon or other clothing is noisy, especially in cold weather, when you walk or move.  Use clothing that blends into your surroundings such as white camouflage in winter or dark camouflage in summer. Avoid clothing with noisy or flashy metal fasteners or reflective material.

Link to the Owl Field Guide: