This morning we went to the woods in the park before dawn in the cold rain and wind to see the Great Horned owls- I love doing this. And we did see them, and the young’uns in the nest. It’s a full moon today but so cloudy that only a slight moon glow was apparent- maybe this evening the moon will be bright between the two cottonwoods where it was on Tuesday night. (these pictures were taken Thursday evening before the sun went down) These two cottonwoods are the owlets’ neighborhood. They stay in the one on the left. Charles and Sarah, the parents (who pair up for life, until one dies and then the other will take on a new mate), have nested there before, so Mark the owl man tells me. Every year the cycle repeats: After raising their young and kicking them out of the neighborhood to go find their own territory, Charles and Sarah renew their bond (Mark says they do this by singing together, duetting), go through a mating period, and maybe have the briefest of rests before they build a nest and hatch some owlets. Then Sarah stays with the owlets while Charles does all the hunting. Mark’s friend and fellow owl-lover Brenda, whom I met Thursday night, once saw a food exchange. She heard Charles call, a different call than usual, and then saw him arrive on the scene with a big cottontail rabbit in his talons. Sarah, haveing heard the call, flew out of the nest and met Charles on a flat limb, where he gave the rabbit to her, then Charles flew off again. Sarah flew off into the woods with the rabbit and ate a bit of it, then brought the rest back to the nest to feed the young. They also will cache some food in hollow limbs. Every year, day in and day out, they do this. Sounds exhausting! I know this is what they DO, there’s not much choice in the matter, but I still admire the simplicity of it all, and their devotion (allowing myself a little anthropomorphism) to their lives and their tasks.
You can barely see them but the 2 owlets are looking out of the hollow in the cottonwood.
Looking South, calling and waiting. It is a dear sight to me to see all the newly-constructed nests and all the males waiting for the females to come use them.
This is a nest I saw today that has been woven with fishing line picked up from around the lake. I wonder if it’s comfortable?