Great Horned Owlet Walks Around the Neighbourhood

On April 23 the Owlets were still in the nest, looking far less fluffy and much more feathery!

Their ‘ear’ tufts were more visible too. Owl experts don’t really know what the purpose is for these feathery tufts. They don’t have anything to do with how well the owl hears since an owl’s ears are on the side of the head, not the top!

The first owlet left the nest on April 25. Several alert neigbours reported seeing the young owl walking from one front yard to another!

I finally caught the ‘walking owl’ in action at dusk on April 27. The owlet was perched on a rock, then hopped down and continued it’s walkabout.

One parent owl was in a nearby palm tree hooting, while the second parent distributed the evening meal.

One owlet was still in the nest, maybe enjoying how roomy it’s quarters are now.

On April 28 the owlet in the nest was still looking down from it’s high perch.

The Adaptability of Great Horned Owls

Now that I’ve watched baby Great Horned Owls in both Alberta and Arizona, I realize there are differences in the behaviour of the owlets once they leave the nest. In Alberta, the owlets learned to fly from spruce branch to spruce branch. They didn’t spend time on the ground until much later when they were learning to hunt. The Arizona owlets are starting at ground level and will only become tree dwellers if they can hop/climb up something, or when their wings are strong enough to get them airborne!

Some interesting things I’ve found about Great Horned Owls.

– though an owl might dive at cats, dogs and people if they have a nest
in the area, it is unlikely they would take a dog or cat to eat. They
cannot lift much more than their own body weight, which is 2-3 pounds. Apparently it is urban legend that birds of prey hunt pets…

– an adult owl will have a wingspan of just under 4 feet. The female owl
will be bigger than the male.

11 thoughts on “Great Horned Owlet Walks Around the Neighbourhood

  1. Quite interesting, Margy, with great photos. I suspect the babies are vulnerable until they master flying. Or maybe they are prodigious hoppers. Or maybe any potential predators don’t want to mess with Mom and Dad. 🙂 On the road and full timing. Near Bryce National Park now. –Curt


    1. I agree they are more vulnerable until they get up off the ground – but the mom and dad owl are always right nearby.
      Looking forward to following your adventures. We will be passing by Bryce next week on our way back to Canada. Looking forward to some bird watching when we stop in northern Utah at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.


      1. Wild Turkeys are similar with their babies. And mom is ferocious. I had one fly at me feet first once when I got too close to her babies taking photos. I backed off quickly. Grin. It will be interesting to hear your experience at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

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  2. Love reading about your owls Margy…I keep showing the photos to my husband who is an owl lover. We have a screech owl nesting in one of our wood duck boxes….Hoping she produces some owlets!


  3. Wonderful photos, Margy – to see an owlet walking around is amazing. We have owls nesting in our woods but I’ve never seen their babies.


    1. We count ourselves very lucky to be watching them so close. To be honest, though, if the nest wasn’t right in our small front yard, we probably would not have seen them.

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  4. I have heard there are eagles that have gotten road kill cats to their nests.


    1. Different bird websites give different answers as to how much weight an eagle can carry, though they seem to agree that it depends on whether the bird is picking up the prey from a ‘standing’ position on the ground OR snatching it in mid air OR from the ground while still flying. Momentum and speed give the bird the ability to carry more weight. Of course, it is all just estimates since people are not weighing the eagle or the prey!

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