Sunday, April 1, 2012

A mama Great Horned Owl feeding her baby...

This afternoon Rick and I headed over to Lake Isabella to check in on the nesting owls. I was hoping to get a glimpse of the baby who has already started popping its head out of the nest. When we arrived, the park attendant told us another egg had hatched and there were now two owlets being tended to by the parents! We walked over to the viewing area to see if the baby was awake. Soon the mama picked something up in the nest and turned toward us. It looked like dinner was about to be served...

A female Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) owl lifted a half-eaten bird out of the nest for her owlet...

...within seconds the baby popped up, ready for dinner! Look at that little one's mouth open up wide.

Only one of the two owlets popped up for dinner. If the other was eating, it was not visible from our angle.

...maybe the mama was feeding the other owlet here.



...sated, the baby soon closed its eyes and slipped back down in the nest to sleep.

...but before nodding off, the owlet stretched its little wings, giving us a glimpse of the feathers just beginning to emerge from the cylindrical feather sheaths.

Owls do not build their own nests. Instead, they take over nests built by hawks, herons, crows, or even squirrels. They also will nest in hollowed-out tree cavities that are large enough, and will even take advantage of man-made platforms and other types of nests, such as this old metal tub. This tub has been at Lake Isabella for a long time and has hosted many owl families over the years!

(It was nice having Rick along with me. If he's not careful, he might lose his old blog name of Rick the Reluctant Birder!)

21 comments:

Arija said...

How incredibly beautiful to see the little owlet looking at you and those, ever so cute, sheathed feathers appearing. Fantastic captures!

Seeing Anew said...

You capture the most amazing shots!

Janice K said...

Wow! How neat to see that.

TexWisGirl said...

the shot of the 2 of them looking straight at you made me think 'burp!' ha ha! great shots!

Montanagirl said...

Love these! The GHO nest we've been watching the last 3 years has disappeared, either in the wind or someone tore it down. (It was in a cemetery).

Gillian Olson said...

Wonderful shots, you have very good timing, showing up just at dinner time. The picture of parent and owlet together is quite amazing.

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

Fascinating! So they make do with an old tub for a nest? You manage to get in so close on your shots, Kelly!

Elaine said...

Very nice, Kelly! Baby owls are just so cute.

Frank said...

Super shots of feeding time.

Now if I put a large tin bath up in a tree here is it likely to draw something interesting?

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

Wow what great photos of the Owl feeding her chick.

Quite neat.

Guy

Tammie Lee said...

it was a bit hard see the half eaten bird, so strange, for me to consider birds eating birds, but i know, they do. i love that fluffy little head, what a character. you got some amazing photographs, thank you for sharing.

Jen said...

Those pictures are amazing. The mama is so expressive.

the cuby poet said...

This is such a fabulous set of photos thank for sharing them.

Denise said...

These photos are incredible. I have yet to see an owl in the wild, and live for shots such as these. Thank you!

KaHolly said...

Incredible shots. Wow!! How fortunate. My daughter continues to insist that she 'isn't a birder', but she's the best non-birder I've ever met, as long as I keep to the bigger birds.

Mary said...

wow...what a privilege to see this! Dinner and a nap...what more can a baby bird want?

Kathie Brown said...

Kelly, what fun! I miss seeing the owl babies in their cave nest down in AZ. I hope these fledge well and live long. Happy Easter to you and your family.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone for the kind words. I really wasn't that close. Actually....I was pretty far away. The viewing area is right next to a picnic shelter. If you get closer, you can't see into the nest. I just was very still when I took the photos and the VR (vibration reduction) of the lens helps too, so I was able to crop the photos down, down, down to get "up close" to the owl. The extensive cropping accounts for the lack in quality. The photos are a bit fuzzy, but fuzzy is better than nothing. Of course...a 600mm lens would be better by far! I hope to get back later today to see how the babies are doing!

Kerri said...

I have yet to see an owl in the wild. These pics are wonderful and I'm sure it was a fabulous experience! Thanks for sharing with us!

Chad said...

Disgustingly beautiful! Several years ago, I was able to locate a Great-horned Owl nesting location but never since. Awesome! Did you see the webcam coverage at the Cornell Lab site of the Heron that was attacked by the Owl? Pretty cool!

Pam said...

Your shots of mama owl feeding her owlet are amazing, Kelly. You must have been thrilled to capture both of them.