Great Horned Owls
What was supposed to be an early morning turkey hunt with Peter turned into sleeping in thanks to or because of, depending on how I felt at the moment, pour rain, and hunting later. Hunting later turned into hilarity between Steve and I and a Saturday wildlife drive. Oh we saw turkeys…two hens. By then we’d given up setting up decoys and yelping. We were driving with hopes of seeing a tom somewhere. Anywhere. Didn’t happen. We visited the great horned owls on their nest.
The first time I saw the nest there was one adult great horned owl and two owlets. This time we could see two adults but no offspring. The adults were drenched after the downpour and looked downright cranky, and who can blame them. I love bird watching and surprises like this Chestnut-sided warbler, and never thought I’d get to watch two great horned owls raising owlets. They’ll fledge in about 42 days so we’re running out of time. I want to go back one more time, on a sunny day, and take better photos before the youngsters leave.
Great horned owls sometimes use other birds’ nests. This nest was built by osprey so it’s on the typical power line pole and is at the edge of a large body of water. Osprey are also known as fish hawks. The nest is huge for owls and there’s lots of room to move around. The adults were hovering over the owlets when we arrived. We stayed about five minutes the first time, as we pulled away one of the owls left the nest, presumably to hunt. On our way back through both were on the nest and tearing something into bite sized pieces. The hunt was fast, we were gone less than 20 minutes, and successful. They eat skunks and porcupines (!!!), hare, water fowl and other birds, rodents, and house cats and small dogs. I wouldn’t want them out here near our ducks and chickens but I wouldn’t mind a pair that would pare down the porcupine and skunk populations. You have to admire anything that can handle skunks and porcupines.