Saturday, April 29, 2017

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owls are common, yet seldom seen. This adult female with staring yellow eyes seems to prefer things that way.

If you see an owl in the daytime it's probably resting comfortably or startled into fleeing.

Owls are around us all the time, they're just reluctant to let you know, YOU'RE the one being watched.

Hiding in a hole seems a smart way to pass the daylight hours.

I unknowingly startled two resting Great Horned Owls as I passed under this bridge one morning.

(Click any picture to enlarge)

They flew away, but not far away. That's an odd behavior, but it presented a great picture opportunity for me.

Male Great Horned Owls are slightly smaller than females, though with a deeper voice. The males advertise their presence in late winter/early spring with deep hooting nighttime calls. The females respond if they like the male's beckoning with a soft return hoot. Soon after there will be baby owls.

This male seemed a bit cross, but accepted my presence as I respected his.

The reason he was staying nearby was sitting underneath on a bridge support. One of two offspring remained when the adults left.

With eyes wide open in amazement the young owl stared back at me in a seemingly confused state of stay-or-go.

The male in the tree departed when he learned all he needed to know about me.

It's was back to the bridge to check on his straggling youngster.

It's not likely the Great Horned Owls nested or raised their young under the bridge. Rather they stopped to rest for the day in a cool dark place. There was an active Raven's nest at the opposite end of the bridge and that would have been an untenable arrangement for all. Both species are known nest robbers given an opportunity.

So, it's likely the Great Horned Owl's best chance for a successful next generation is remaining seldom seen.

Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
Sibley's Guide to Birds