Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nesting Pair of Great Horned Owls

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

Had a very cool experience recently, thanks to my wonderful husband. He had noticed a nesting pair of Great Horned Owls in our area, as he was driving one day. He took me back to the site, to see if I could get some photographs of them. It was fun shooting these images as the owls were quite relaxed, in spite of our presence. Several other people stopped to see them while we were there, including a group of cyclists, and they still weren't bothered.

One owl was in the nest the whole time, most likely incubating, and you could only see the ears and every once in a while, the eyes. Too cute! The other owl was sitting perched near the nest, but outside of it. I believe it was the male sitting outside, although both the male and female incubate, because he looked smaller, and the males are smaller than the females and have a deeper voice. They could be sitting on 1-5 eggs. We'll have to be careful when their youngin's arrive as they are very protective parents and could attack us if we get too close. Yikes! Don't want that to happen. Might need a longer lens. :D

I have learned that these owls have a 5-15 year lifespan. They weight 2-5.5 lbs. and have a wingspan of 3.3-5.8 ft. They are carnivores. They eat a variety of animals such as rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, birds, falcons and even other owls. They also have a habit of eating skunks and may be the only animal to have such a desire. Better keep an eye on your domestic animals, too, if there are Great Horned Owls in your area. These owls are mostly nocturnal and hunt at night. They have a wonderful digestive system. They often swallow their prey whole and then the "left-overs", mainly bones & fur, come back up in the form of pellets. You can disect these pellets to see just what they ate for their last meal, if you have a desire to know. LOL Oh, by the way, those are not ears on top of their head, they're feathered tufts.

Hopefully, I'll soon have some owlette images to share! To see more of my Great Horned Owl images, CLICK HERE.

Isaiah 34:13-15 (New Living Translation)
"Thorns will overrun its palaces; nettles and thistles will grow in its forts.The ruins will become a haunt for jackals and a home for owls....Desert animals will mingle there with hyenas, their howls filling the night.Wild goats will bleat at one another among the ruins, and night creatures will come there to rest.There the owl will make her nest and lay her eggs. She will hatch her young and cover them with her wings. And the buzzards will come, each one with its mate."


Birding is Fun! said...

I noticed our momma Great Horned Owl started sitting on eggs around Feb 11th, so I am expected the eggs to hatch this weekend! We probably won't see the owlets for a couple more weeks until they are big and strong enough to poke their white fuzzy heads up enough.

Kathleen said...

I think this pair now has some eggs. Last time we went by there she was sitting up higher in the nest than previously and I could see from her head to her tail as she was lying there. I'm only assuming, though.

eileeninmd said...

How cool, you are so lucky to be able to observe these wonderful owls. Great photos.

rebecca said...

Nice! There's a GHO nest at the outdoor education center where I work and it's so much fun to show it to the students; how often does a sixth grader see an owl in wild? It never gets old seeing a big owl glaring at you from a tree cavity.

Anonymous said...

I love the photo with the owl head poking over the nest and the other owl so well camouflaged on the branch, looking like an owl-shaped pile of leaves. (I'm visiting from I and the Bird.)

Kathleen said...

Thank you all so much for visiting and for your comments. I just love hearing about other people's experiences as well as sharing mine with others'. Blessings to you all!


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