This is a dispatch and photos from Star Tribune Outdoors Weekend section contributor Jeff Moravec:

No matter how hard you look while slowly cruising through the Sax-Zim Bog, the birding mecca northwest of Duluth, you may not spot a great gray owl (the bog’s most popular target).


When I’m skunked, I like to tell myself there were simply no birds around. More likely, I’m just not seeing them.


Case in point. I spotted this owl one recent morning, sitting plain as day at the end of a branch in a dead tree, nothing but sky behind him. After hunting, the owl flew to the perch pictured here. I thought I saw where the bird landed, trained my lens on the spot and snapped a few pictures. But when I took the camera away from my eye, I was convinced I was mistaken — I could not see an owl. It wasn’t until I saw it turn its head and stare at me with those bright yellow eyes that I knew with certainty that the owl was there.


How many times have I driven past one of these in exactly that first pose? Too many, I’m sure.

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