Photographer Scott Dere was on an owl photography outing when an owl unexpectedly landed on his Canon 600mm f/4L IS III, blending in strangely well with the camouflaged lens.
Dere had set out to photograph some great grey owls and, along the way, teamed up with three other photographers, including Beaumon Day and Olympus Explorer Brooke Bartleson.
“In a minute or two, I found one perched and wolf-whistled to the three others,” recounts Dere to PetaPixel. “It was an incredible moment when the owl decided to land on my head! It sent tingles down my spine for hours.
“After a moment, the owl repositioned on my lens, and I was able to pivot it slightly to pose for an image. Thankfully Beau has the reflexes and sense to take the photograph that I will cherish forever.”
After this, the owl landed on Brooke’s head, startling her.
“With many of my wildlife images, it is being at the right place at the right moment and ready,” explains Day, who is not a full-time wildlife photographer. “I am thankful I had the reaction I did to quickly compose and take a shot to remember this special moment.
“Aside from this particular lucky shot, it is different in that I typically do not have wildlife images with people in them. My other wildlife images are of a single or group of animals and not standing or perched right next to, or in this case ON, a human.”
“This owl was a juvenile,” adds Day. “You can tell by certain features in their feathers like the tips of their tail feathers, for example. It’s hard to say exactly why this owl behaved like it did this snowy afternoon, but, in my opinion, it was not afraid of us and mostly had a curiosity for the visitors in its neck of the woods.
“I don’t suspect it associated us with food by any means and was not searching for a quick meal. We definitely did not bait this owl or do anything that would cause it to leave its perch, fly right at us and land on two different people’s heads. So, my guess is it was a young owl that didn’t feel threatened by us and was curious.”
Notable: An owl landing on a human head is not totally unheard of, and PetaPixel carried a video of a similar head loving owl in the Netherlands.
About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him via email here.
Image credits: Header photograph © Beaumon Day