More Music to My Ears!

So, last night, as I once again was standing in front of the sink getting ready for bed, I opened the window and hoped I would be rewarded a second time. Not only did I almost instantly hear immature owl calls, but this time there were TWO voices clamoring away, occasionally overlapping notes and (perhaps) attempting to out vocalize each other. Two or three owl chicks per brood has been the norm for the resident Great Horned Owl pair, though they don’t usually all make it to adulthood. Sadly, the larger sibling will often push the smaller one out of the nest prematurely. This isn’t always a death sentence though as even when the young owls can’t fly yet, they are fairly good climbers and the parents will continue to try and feed and watch over the youngster on the ground. There are, however, a lot of potential predators for a young owl and I’m certain that they have not all survived. But, for now, there are two (from the sound of it) healthy owl chicks out there and all feels right with the world! You can be certain that from now on I will be throwing open windows and doors to listen regularly at night. (Occasionally, I get lucky and can also hear the rapid trilling of the local Western Screech-Owls! But, more on that another time…)

In the last photo I shared, the juvenile Great Horned Owl looks like a fuzzy ball of fluff. I thought it might be interesting to show you that looks can be deceiving. As you can see in the image below, its wings are nearly adult-sized and quite impressive. The flight feathers grow in considerably sooner than the mature body feathers. Though this little one was not ready to fly yet, it was starting to strengthen its wings and get some practice by holding on to twigs or foliage at the top of the eucalyptus and then flapping vigorously. Every once in a while, it would even get just a little bit of lift! Watching this particular owl learn to fly in the weeks that followed was one of those experiences that I simply will never forget.


Great Horned Owl, immature stretching wings



Harsi / July 18, 2011 / birds

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