Speaking of adopting the nests of other birds, I witnessed a very obvious example of that in April, 2013. While visiting a local Heron Rookery I noticed a strange formation in one of the nests. After a closer look, I realized it was two Great Horned Owl nestlings. Since the owl picks their nest much earlier than the heron, they were mixed into the colony. Talk about keeping your enemies close. Great Horned Owl Nestlings & Great Blue HeronThe Great Horned Owl nests mostly in stick nests from other birds. These Owletes are in the middle of a Great Blue Heron rookery.
The Great Horned Owl is a powerful predator that can take down birds and mammals larger than itself but they also attack smaller targets such as mice and frogs.
On this March 12th visit, I got my first glimpse of the owlet as it was getting attention from the hen. The remaining images are from Butler County until I note a change.
The warm sunlight of March 12th was comforting for the sleepy hen.
As the evening of March 13th was upon us, the sun disappeared and the hen became more active. She was beginning to make short flights away from the nest.
I stayed at the nest all evening on March 16th with hopes of seeing the growing baby. It showed itself but I had to reposition myself to get a good view.
The location of this nest was positioned in good photography sunlight only about one hour in the evening. Otherwise, it came from undesirable directions causing shadows. I returned on March 22nd in hopes to find the owlet covered in sunlight.
This photo was on March 25th minutes after the hen fed the baby. You can see a little piece of meat still stuck on her beak.
After changing position once again, I got a great family portrait on March 25th. I use the word "family" loosely because the father isn't in the photo. I assure you he was a provider but I never saw him. In the early evening he would call to the hen from deep in the woods. She always responded but I never saw him.
As the owlet grew the hen was seldom in the nest. However, she didn't perch nearby either. The previous photo was the last time I saw the hen. The next photo was made on March 27th.
Since these "used" nests deteriorate over the course of the breeding season and are usually not reused in later years, I look forward to next February to see if anything occupies this nest.
The lone owlet fledged within days after this April 5th photo.
Here is a short video compilation of the Butler County owl nest from February to late in the nesting season.
Back to the nest in Erie, PA. This nest is in the top of a dead tree stump. The stump is about 20 feet tall and has been reused year after year. I don't know its history but I know it's been at least three years that I've known about the nest.
The remaining photos were made on my last trip to Presque Ilse on April 14th.
This nest is in a location that provides an opportunity for anyone to witness the growth of Great Horned Owl nestlings. Situated a short distance from a paved bike path it is easily wheelchair accessible. The owls don't seem to mind and people respect the wildlife by keeping their distance. Actually, you are not allowed to exit the path and "Big Brother" is watching.
Speaking for myself, during the longs stays at the nest I am hoping for one thing. I want to photograph interaction between the owlets or between a parent and the owlets. That's it! If I only wanted a portrait like the one above, I would be in and out in 30 minutes.
It looks like the photographers and other onlookers might be a little boring for the owlets.
The hen is usually found perching in a dense grove of Hemlock trees near the nest. On this evening she came out and flew to a few different perches.
From what I've heard, the hen is around the nest more than the male owl. However, we were greeted by both on this day. Below is the male perched at the opposite edge of the woods line.
The growing owlets are comical and fun to watch. I didn't shoot any video at this nest because there are too many people talking and I prefer to have a little seclusion for video.
The sun had already set when the hen finally came to the nest. The family didn't strike an award winning pose on the nest but I finally had the opportunity to see the hen with the owlets.
As the skies darkened, I managed one more photo while the hen was feeding in the corner of the nest.
Both of these owlets fledged the nest within the first 5 days of May ending a successful breeding season once again.
Thanks for looking,