Monday, August 20, 2012

Mid-August: Great Horned Owl

For several days, I've heard a couple Great Horned Owls hooting back and forth across my yard.  Mid-August is too late for this to be a breeding pair, so I know these are likely newly fledged youngsters checking out the neighborhood.  When Carlos came to work on repairing my wood floors, he heard the owls and immediately found one way up high;  I don't know how he did it.  'Course, now I call him Owl-eye.

Can you see what I see? (Hint: look almost dead-center)
This young bird is about three stories up in a huge willow (or cottonwood) tree; well hidden from other birds and trouble that sometimes comes to new fledged predator-birds. Talk about camouflaged.

He moved a bit and I zoomed a bit closer, but he's still cautious.
See how he lies along the branch? That is also a camouflaging technique. As are his 'horns' that many assume are his ears. Actually, they are just tufts of feathers for the purpose of breaking up his silhouette. They often sit close to the trunk for the same reason; one of the best ways to spot these big owls is to look for the lump that doesn't belong...along the trunk or along a branch, like this guy.

 I learned we can tell he is a youngster because he still
has a bit of the rufus (brownish-red) feathering
around his face and head.  


This is the best shot of a GHO I've ever taken.  As high as he was, I'm surprised it's not more blurry.  As big as a bird as he is, he's actually a small Great Horned Owl.  Males of most predator bird species are smaller, by about a third, than their females. By the time a bird leaves the nest, they're about full grown, and this guy is small...so I assume he's male. 

After giving the youngster a bit of a break, my 'adopted daughter', Rheanne came over and I handed her my camera.  Now, she is a photographer.  In the mean time, the bird had moved some, so I suggested she try a shot from the other side of the tree.  This is what she got:

By Rheanne Velie
Photographs by: myself, except as labeled.

No comments: