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.

Great Horned Owlets in April

Update on the Owlets:

Rescued Great Horned Owlet at the Raptor Centre on April 7.

The Great Horned Owl (that nested in the Palm Tree in our front yard) laid four eggs. One egg ‘escaped’ the nest, so didn’t hatch. Three owlets hatched, but one fell out of the nest when it was about 2 weeks old. I rescued it and gave it to a Raptor Center to raise.

The two remaining owlets are growing quickly. Feathers are replacing the fuzzy down. Watch the transition below:

Great Horned Owlet April 10
Great Horned Owlet April 17
Great Horned Owlets April 21

The Drop Zone
The downside to having an owls nest in our front yard is the mess. You can see the accumulating owl droppings (at nest height) in the photo above. At ground level, there are more droppings, owl pellets (regurgitated bones, fur and feathers), and for some reason two dead rodents…

The Camera
All photos were taken with a Canon Powershot SX50 HS camera. It has a single fixed superzoom lens. That means I can fill the photo with the owlet’s face while standing across the street.

Great Horned Owl Nest Timeline:
March 5 – mother owl is sitting on the nest. One egg has escaped the nest. (incubation time is 28-35 days.)
March 24 – broken egg found at base of tree. Owlets have hatched?
April 4 – first sighting of owlets, nearly 2 weeks after probable hatching.
April 7 – Owlet falls out of nest and is relocated to Raptor Center.
April 22 – Owlets starting to exercise wings. They move to the shady side of the tree during the heat of the afternoon.

The owlets might stay in the nest for about 6 weeks after hatching, though they could try to fly to nearby branches when about 5 weeks old. After they have left the nest, they may also be seen walking around on the ground for awhile before they can fly. The parents will continue to feed them for some time.

Thoughtsss of Sssnake

Snakes have emerged from their winter nap in Arizona. Here is how one snake (a harmless gopher snake) interacted with the non-toxic traps that are reducing the number of digging rodents (that were turning our yard into swiss cheese…)


Ratsss, Ssskewered. Sssun baked in a Ssslate dark oven. Boxxxed to go!

Sssweet and juicccey,  a gassstonomissstsss treasssure. Ssslither into thisss hole.

Big sssnakey bite – but the boxxx  won’t let go of my sssupper! Reverssse! Reverssse!

Ssso clossse! A mouth full of fur for my effortsss!

Sssearching elssswhere for my nexxxt Sssquare meal.

Great Horned Owl – Rescuing an Owlet

In my previous post about the Great Horned Owl nest in our palm tree, I introduced the First Owlet.

Over the next few days we saw at least two more baby birds.

In the photo above there are two owlets to the right of the unhatched egg, and one just above the egg. I don’t think there are more than that, but time will tell!

In this photo, one owlet settles in to it’s temporary home in an Amazon Prime cardboard box lined with a fluffy white towel. The baby bird fell out of the nest. I found it sitting on the road near the bottom of the palm tree. It could not walk or hop very far without tipping over.

There was no way I could get the baby back into the nest and it was much too young to live without the warmth and care of the mother owl. I didn’t know how long the bird had been on the ground, but I knew there were many predators nearby. So I donned my trusty leather gardening gloves, quickly found the box, took a deep breathe – and gently guided the bird into a safer place.

I’m not sure whose heart was beating faster now – the bird’s or mine! For such a small bundle, it had a big beak and long sharp talons – and it was not happy with me at all! We both calmed down once the owlet was safely in the box and I had added a fluffy towel so the bird had something to hold onto. I closed the  flaps on the box (many thanks to the box maker because when the flaps are closed there is a large enough gap to allow good ventilation.)

The baby owlet being held by a person at the ‘Wild at Heart’ Raptor Center.

Several hours later The Car Guy and I delivered the bird to the Arizona Wild at Heart rescue center. An experienced staff member checked the baby for broken bones, gave it a rehydration needle, then explained their baby raptor program to us.

They will care for the owlet in their ‘wild fostering’ program. The baby will be raised by another Great Horned Owl – a foster parent – that will feed it, teach it to avoid humans and predators, how to communicate and hunt. The baby will not imprint on people and as long as it grows up to be a healthy bird, it will be released into the wild when it is mature enough.

I sure know a lot more about baby owls now (they really don’t smell that great when they have been in a box for a short while…) So, although it is exciting to have a nest of baby birds nearby, sometimes it comes with the obligation to make sure that ‘No bird is left behind’.

 

Great Horned Owlet – First Photos

The Great Horned Owl that is nesting in a palm tree in our yard (in Arizona) has successfully ‘hatched’ at least one owlet.

The photo above shows Mother Owl with the small white bundle of feathers  that is the owlet. Near the bottom centre of the photo is the egg that escaped from the nest.

This photo shows the baby more clearly. The round black area is the eye. We think the owlet is almost 2 weeks old now.

This photo shows the owlet’s already impressive beak!

The Arizona Owl Family:

The Alberta Owl Family:
In 2018 we watched what we thought was a once in a lifetime event! A Great Horned Owl nested in a tree in our front yard. We first saw the three owlets when they had left the nest and were venturing out onto a branch each day as they prepared to fly for the first time.

The Egg Escaped

We are eagerly waiting for the arrival of baby Great Horned Owls. The parental units have nested in a Palm Tree in our front yard. (Snooze All Day, Hoot All Night). Sadly, one of the owl eggs escaped from the nest.

We sure hope the owl laid more than one egg! The escaped egg will never take flight!

Nature recognized that the Egg was eggsactly the type of ineggspensive, eggstremely simple container needed for many housing situations. With an eggsternal shell that would survive eggstreme conditions (barring eggsplosions), the egg was an eggsellent choice where eggsessive sharp edges were undesirable for the eggspectant mother when it was time to eggspell it.
– Margy –

Speaking of flight –

Here is a link to some of my other Egg posts: An Eggsellent Arrangement of Eggs.

Snooze All Day, Hoot All Night – Great Horned Owls

There has been a Great Horned Owl (or maybe owls, plural) in our Arizona yard for several weeks now. It (or they) have been hooting almost every night. Sometimes one sits on the top of the chimney – then they sound like they are in the house!

Several days ago I heard a few short hoots as I was sitting on my back deck. I traced the sound to the large old Willow Acacia tree. Initially the owls eyes were closed, but as I slowly circled one side of the tree to take some photos, the owls eyes opened – then closed again. Maybe it was responding to the crunching noise I was making on the gravel that is our yard, or maybe it was looking at the hummingbirds that were pestering it.

At night, we often hear an owl in front of our house too, so yesterday I inspected our Palm Tree more carefully. To the naked eye, it was hard to tell whether an owl was nestled in a notch made by the stumps of palm fronds. I had no problem seeing the owl once I had my camera with the zoom lens!

I’m hopeful that this is a nest! If so, we should be here in Arizona long enough to see the owlets. If that is the case, then our ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to watch baby horned owls grow up will be a ‘twice in a lifetime’ event! (My Alberta Great Horned Owl is at Owl Family.)

They will usually start their nesting behavior around late December to early January in Arizona…Their clutch size will range anywhere from 1-6 eggs… incubation period of about 28 – 35 days… The hatching of the eggs will typically happen in mid to late February through March. Both parents will bring the young owlets food in the nest, and both parents will tend to the young for the first several months of life.
Arizona Game and Fish

Walter the Cat and Other Cat and Dog Tales

Walter the Cat – Almost Makes You Want to buy a Chevy…

If the Dog Could Talk

Dog: WAT DOING?
Me: Nothing. I just stood up.
Dog: WHERE GO?
Me: I’m walking 3 feet away. I’m not even leaving the room.
Dog: I COME.
Me: But, I’m just going…
Dog: I COME TOO.
Dog: WAT DOING?
Me: I need to open this door.
Dog: I HALP.
Me: Then move because you are right in front of the door.
Dog: WHERE GO?
Me: I am going back to sit where I was a few seconds ago.
Dog: I COME TOO…
– Author Unknown –

Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.
– Ann Landers –

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult
– Rita Rudner –

Previous Cat and Dog Posts
It’s a Dog’s Life
Dog Quotations
Cats with Yarn
If the Animals Could Talk
Talk to the Animals
Cat Quotations

Moose Wrongly Accused

These moose in our yard may be the same three moose that were accused of attacking a man at a location a few ‘moose miles’ away from us…

Three members of the Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service were wrongly accused of attacking a man.

The Story: “Alberta RCMP now say they are attending a medical emergency… that involves a moose in the area (urban) after issuing a wildlife warning for a ‘moose attack’…”  Date: November 3, 2021, 6:18 PM. Source: CBC News

Later, an addition to the CBC report said: “RCMP had issued a wildlife warning, but have since said the incident was a medical emergency.”

A CTV News report (at 6:52 PM) said: “…when officers arrived, they discovered that the moose, a mom and her two calves, hadn’t come into contact with anyone and the man had instead suffered a “medical emergency.”

Thirty four minutes. That is the difference in time between the CBC report and the CTV report. It only took 34 minutes for the CTV reporter to clarify that the moose did not attack anyone. That won’t, however, stop a moose attack story from spreading faster than the truth.

Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.
– Jonathan Swift, The Examiner, Nov. 9, 1710 –

It’s well understood that there’s a bias to our sharing negative over positive news, and also a bias to sharing surprising over unsurprising news.
Deb Roy, co-author ‘The spread of true and false news online’ –

Is there an upside to the false part of this story?
Maybe. People might be more wary of moose and stay away from them.
Maybe not. People might try to scare the moose away and that might not end well for the people or the moose.

I’ll be glad when the moose have left the ‘big city’ and returned to their ‘rural roots’!

Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service – Four New Employees

Three new members of the ‘Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service’ arrived on our property in early October. Mavis Moose and her two calves, Morgan and Montana, worked primarily in the NE section of our woods. They also rested on (and fertilized) the grassy area that covers our septic field.

This calf is demonstrating extreme resting. Morgan (or maybe it was Montana) slumbered in the full side sleeping position for almost an hour. I’d never seen a moose stretch out like that before… for a while I was afraid it had died!

(More Moose Photos:  Mike Jackson’s Resting Moose Collection of Photos.)

Mother moose with two calves

I know that wild life researchers avoid getting so close to animals that they affect eating habits and natural behavior. We have the opposite situation here – the moose don’t hesitate to get close to our ‘habitat’, thus affecting our behavior. In the photo above, they crossed our driveway, then bedded down about 30 ft (9 m) away from our front door.
Mature male moose

The fourth new member of the ‘Munching Moose’ crew was Malcolm. Though Malcolm did do some munching, he was here for only one day. Apparently he achieved his objective with the female moose, then moved on to sow his wild oats in another ‘part of town’.

A rare portrait of Malcolm, Morgan and Montana (I cropped Mavis out of the photo because she was in the deep shade – but she was staying very close to her calves.)

A few days later, there was a grand Munching Moose Picnic in our west woods. Mothers Martha and Mavis  spent a few hours munching and resting while the calves, Morley, Morgan and Montana  frolicked about – dare I say  Moose-capades!

I was watching all the activity from a location about 100 ft  (30 m) away. Suddenly, one of the calves ran directly towards me. It abruptly stopped when it was about 30 ft (9 m) away from me (and the large grey thing with round rubber feet). Then, just as quickly, it ran away.

In another blink of an eye, the mother moose had arrived to check on her calf. She too came to a full stop in the same spot as the calf had been, then turned and casually walked away. This isn’t the first time we’ve observed that these moose are comfortable being near human structures but actively avoid close contact with people.

That’s not to say all moose populations are like that (or that these moose would react the same way every time). However, these moose do live in a semi-rural area that has far more people than there are moose – an area where the trade off for having food and safe places to bed down is frequent encounters with human beings. So far, so good.