Anna Björg Kristbjörnsdóttir, a resident of Gerdhamrar in Reykjavík’s Grafarvogur district, was surprised to find a short-eared owl resting on a fence near her house when she returned home at around 3 pm on Sunday.
From Grafarvogur. Photo by Dagbjört Oddný Matthíasdóttir.
“It was very exciting and special. I was really surprised to see an owl so calm that close to us,” Kristbjörnsdóttir told Fréttabladid.
“We parked the car and walked up to it and it seemed very tame and wasn’t startled. We were probably only two meters away from it and it didn’t fly away until after Fréttabladid’s photographer took pictures of it. At that point we probably moved a little too close,” Kristbjörnsdóttir speculated.
Ólafur Karl Nielsen, an ornithologist at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, said the short-eared owl is the only owl species that breeds in Iceland every year; other owl species that have nested in Iceland intermittently are snowy owls and long-eared owls.
A couple of hundred short-eared owls usually reside in Iceland in winter. “There are some short-eared owls in the Reykjavík area every winter,” Nielsen said, adding that they are usually out and about in the afternoon dusk, during the night and in the mornings.
“It isn’t especially common that they pose for people. They sleep in groves and well known sleeping habitats are for example in Öskjuhlíd, Ellidaárdalur, Fossvogur and Keldur. When they are awake they move around and try to catch mice and small birds,” Nielsen described.
Click here to see Fréttabladid’s picture of the owl which didn’t mind posing in broad daylight.