This and That – Rescued Owl Update

Great Horned Owlet in April 2022

The Rescue Owl
In April I rescued a Great Horned Owlet that had fallen out of a nest that was in the Palm Tree in our front yard (see Great Horned Owlets in April.) We took the bird to the ‘Wild at Heart’ Bird rescue center in Cave Creek Arizona.

In early June the Director of Wild at Heart  sent us an update about our owlet.

Group Photo Great Horned Owlets

‘Our’ owl is one of the ones in this group photo. The birds will continue their stay at the Center throughout the summer. They will finish their live food training sessions and in late summer and throughout the fall they will be released into a suitable habitat.

So, do you think my owlet is the ‘tall’ curious one in the back row… or maybe the shy one huddled up against the owl next to it? For creatures that look so much alike, they do seem to have distinct personalities!

Social Media – the Information Gatekeepers

Being effective at social media, whether for business or personal use, means capturing people who have short attention spans. They’re only a click away from a picture of a funny cat, so you have to make your thing more compelling than that cat. And that can be a high bar.
— Alexis Ohanian –

There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson –

#Take Box

We call the Amazon Drivers ‘Andy’. They visit us quite frequently. The Car Guy has found that he can buy a lot of stuff for his work shop from Amazon. Their warehouse isn’t far from our place and they have items that the hardware stores have not had for some time now.

As quickly as Andy delivers things, other stuff is exiting our house. We are  in the ‘never ending’ downsizing mode. We are at that age where it is highly unlikely we will ever use many of the things that we often used 20 or 30 years ago!  When I saw the following idea,  I thought it sounded like a good one:

What Happens in the Bedroom…

Speaking of Beds, I recently saw this ‘Flower Bed’.

Do You Remember When?

Are you old enough to remember the Indian Head Test Pattern that was shown on your TV screen just after the channel had signed off for the day?

The test pattern was used to tune the brightness and contrast settings, either by broadcast engineers to make sure broadcasts were being sent correctly; or by TV owners or repair shop technicians to correct the image.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian-head_test_pattern#/media/File:Indian_Head_Test_Pattern_with_Labels.png

To Sum Things Up

The upside of Facebook, besides knowing what things your friends and family are doing that they don’t otherwise tell you about, are tidbits like this one (I couldn’t find the original source, which might have been clearer):

If you are of a certain age you will remember Jim Croce’s song, ‘Operator’:

Operator, oh, could you help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded.

The hypothetical comments that might come from young people today – what is an ‘operator’ or a ‘matchbook’ – could explain why that person would think the song makes no sense!

That’s okay. The few times I’ve listened to the words of some new song, I didn’t understand all the references either!

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.

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

Great Horned Owl in Arizona

For the past few weeks we have been serenaded by several Great Horned Owls. Their calls, a series of deep hoots (who-who-ah-whoo, who-ah-whoo) break the silence of the late evening or early morning. It is always too dark to see it, or take pictures.

Today, however, owl starting hooting before sundown. It sounded very close. I scanned the nearby tree, and finally spotted it. Unfortunately, owl was mostly hidden by a veil of willowy leaves. I didn’t want to scare ‘my’ owl away, so I slowly worked my way along the back of our house, well away from the tree. I tried to be quiet, but it is almost impossible to walk quietly on gravel – crunch, crunch, crunch.

89-great-horned-owl-1

Owl didn’t budge. When I had reached the optimum location, I was able to take a few good photos.

89-great-horned-owl-2

Then I crunch, crunch, crunched my way back across the yard and into the house. Hope this is the first of many more owl encounters, and the last of the rodents who burrow under the prickly pear cactus patch.

The Feather Files
Name: Great Horned Owl
Species: Bubo virginianus
Native to and Migration: Found all across North America up to the northern tree line; no regular migration – individuals may wander long distances in fall and winter, sometimes moving southward.
Date Seen: February, 2017
Location: North of Fountain Hills, Arizona

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Against the Odds.