Saturday, May 3, 2014

Great Horned Owl

Owls hold a special fascination for me.
And, they seem to be just as interested in me as I am in them…

or maybe NOT. 
Being nocturnal, it could be that this Great Horned Owl was just too worn-out after a night of hunting to bother with one more problem…me. 

Maybe she  would rather I just go away, but she gave me no stress indications.

It’s their intense stare which makes one think they hold people interesting.
It's flattering being the center of an owl's world for one moment, captured in big yellow eyes, then calmly ignored by dozing in your presence the next.

This mother and owlet alternately stared and dozed.  They rested on what you'd called the front stoop of their home.  

Great Horned Owls dug or seized  this location, judging by the fresh gravel scattered 50 feet below.

               They only have one owlet.  Feathers littering the ground suggest they may have lost one or more.

Great Horned Owls are not defenseless.  With sizeable talons and a willingness to defend the nest at costs, the male stands guard an hour past sunrise. He was sleepy and his eyes would drift shut occasionally. 

If both parents happen to be napping at the same time, a skillful raptor could quickly grab an owlet.

I suspect that is what happened to this family.  

Two years ago I believe this same pair had three chicks.
(See: Feather Tailed Stories: 
Great Horned Owl & Pack Rat,
 link below)

While I trespassed on his territory, the male came out to investigate and draw me away from his bluff home.  

I had no desire to cause him stress so I stopped, as he had already given me a nice fly-by picture.  

He then flew to a distant branch and waited for me…I obliged by following.  He showed me how far away he wished me to stay and I respected it.

When night falls they will hunt again, unless the owlet demands food sooner. Daytime hunts are common, when necessary.

I’m not likely to capture a  Great Horned Owl's nighttime hunt, but I’m sure it’s fascinating.


(Click any picture to enlarge)