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Fishing for a Living

October 1, 2014

Fishing for a Living

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Jonathan C. Slaght Jonathan C. Slaght

I have a soft spot for this particular Blakiston’s fish owl. I first discovered her when she was just a few days old, covered in a bright white down, still blind, and unreservedly helpless. I saw her again the following winter; the vulnerable chick had become a confident juvenile. She pounced for fish in the shallow water and scraped at the pebbly river bottom hoping to reveal a hibernating frog. And here she was another year later, at the age of two, still living with her parents.

This unusually long pre-dispersal period—the time between when an owl leaves the nest then strikes out to find its own territory—is a testament to the hard lives these globally-endangered birds eke out in the harsh climate of the Russian Far East. For comparison, young great horned owls leave their parents’ territories just a few months after first fluttering out of the nest.

Fishing for a living isn’t easy, especially if the rivers you rely on are largely frozen for a good portion of the year. Young fish owls need all the help and experience they can get to become expert anglers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For October, we at Wild View are getting in the spirit of Halloween. We’re celebrating nature that often elicits alarm. The animals that creep and crawl. The full moons that brighten night skies. The bats, the vultures, the snakes. Swallow your anxiety and join us. Fear not, it’s actually quite amazing.

Canon Rebel xti

, Russia Map It


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james brumm
October 10, 2014 at 12:46 am

Loved the Blaikston’s Owl blog.

    Jonathan Slaght
    April 23, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    Thank you, James. They are a tremendously interesting species, and I am very lucky to work with them.

  • Pingback: Fishing for a Living | Jonathan C. Slaght

  • Patricia Azlin
    February 4, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    So how do they fish when the water is frozen? I guess I’ll have to wait a bit and read your upcoming book on “Blakiston’s Fish Owl.”

    February 13, 2019 at 9:31 am

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    best of luck.
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