Wednesday, November 28, 2007
My Owl Mission-Part 5-Great Horned Owls
Great Horned Owls - These are the owls I find most often, yet never often enough. These owls are the largest for our area. They can be from 18-25" tall, and are referred to as your typical "hoot owl". They are large enough to take on larger prey than other owls, where rabbits, larger birds like hawks, and even skunks can fall victim. In and around January through March is the best time to find these owls, because they are selecting a nest for mating. They do not build their own, they just assume residence in one worthy of their occupancy. Normally they choose a stick nest that is large and strong, usually built by hawks. They will use tree cavities as well. Most owls are never spotted if not on a nest. They will flush, way before you even come close, and you never knew they were even there. But...a Great Horned is different when it comes to protecting their young. They will NOT flush when spotted. They will defend their nest from any predator, including us. There have been attacks by owls to people who wandered in too close to their babies, and got the bad end of their talons in their face. Be warned: Never approach too closely, they are watching you. I try to respect their space as much as I can, because I don't want the nest to fail (They will abandon the nest if the mom gets too stressed). The pictures above were from nesting sites that were used by owls who actually reused the nest for years and years. There were 2 sites that I knew of, but, as bad luck would have it, 1 was a cavity nest that the tree had fallen, so it will no longer be a site.
Being lucky enough to know of a particular site north of here that has nested for 4 straight years. I look forward to this year's "crop" of owlets. The photo of the owl on the brick building was a mother watching her nest from a distance, when her young got too big for her to fit in with them any longer. The photo of the owl family is her, when she could sit with them. I also witnessed her feeding them on 1 lucky day, which was amazing. She looked to have quite the loving expression on her face (see photo above). I also got to see 1 of the owlets puke up a pellet, which was really quite gross, because it looked to be quite a violent heave, but it did come up and out, and the lil guy was all the better for it. I still like that I saw that behavior, even though it was...ummm really sick!
Part 6-Barred Owls