In January a Great Horned Owl decided to make her nest in a planter box which is attached to a government building in Victoria BC. It is May now and I have made several visits to this site, it is an amazing thing to watch. Mom and Dad (named Oulette and Ollie by the regulars), are always close by in the trees if they are not sitting with the ‘lets’ (named Big, Middle and Little by the regulars), in the planter. They will soon be flying away, but they have been a source of education and amusement as we have watched Mom and Dad raise them.
Click on the little picture to see more! – Pics from March 15 – 22
March 27th – Antics!
Today the ‘lets were really active and wanting fly or at least move from one planter to another. I managed to get some shots of one of them as she tried to fly to the next planter where her sister had moved to the previous evening. The sister seemed to be coaxing her over, but she went splat and landed on a connecting pipe. She quickly got up and back up on the planter. Then mom moved from the tree nearby to the flagpole. After which the one ‘let that moved planters flew back to the original planter to be with her siblings in the ‘kitchen’. A few minutes later Mom flew in with a big fat rat! It was quite an active hour on March 27th.
Click on the picture below to see the gallery.
And more flying pictures from March 28 and 31st.
I read somewhere, and I’m trying to find the reference, but it was an owl expert who said that owls never carry their prey in their mouth while flying. hmmm… maybe they forgot to tell Oulette? Does anyone out there know?
This has been an entertaining month, following the ‘lets and observing how Mom and Dad are training them to fly further and further from the safe haven of their planter nests. The question is always ‘will they go back to the planters today’ after they are seen flying from tree to tree. And sure enough the next day they are back in the planters.
Mom and Dad seem to be steering the little ones towards the creek and to the forest, but they keep going back to the planters.
Little, seen here sleeping lying down, is considered unusual behavior according to some experts. Little you’re so adorable!
Little is always a source of amusement and is the one that is the most fun to watch and photograph.
The other night, April 25th, Little was in a planter on the side of the building by herself, Middle and Big were on the roof and Mom was in the Oak Tree near the building. Mom flew to a top floor planter on the side of the building, she seemed to be rooting around and when she lifted her head she had a big bird in her month, a female mallard.
While she was eating Big flew from the roof to a nearby planter and landed on one of the bushes which barely held her up, trying to get close to Mom and some of that food she was eating.
Mom then flew to the roof with the mallard, so now Big had to get back up there.
In the meantime Little figured out it was eating time so he flew to the Oak Tree and then to a small willow, luckily just at the right time with the full moon behind him. From there he flew up to the roof with the others.
Here are a few more April photos.
Little soaking up the sun.
Little snuggling into big sister or brother (not sure if its Big or Middle).
Little making faces :)
In late April I decided to visit the owl site in the late afternoon instead of waiting until the sun starts setting. I was happy to find the family in the forest sitting on some old fir trees. For the most part Mom, Middle and Little were snoozing. Little was trying to lay on a small branch which didn’t look very comfortable, its funny that she likes to lay down to sleep. Here she is looking like she is going to fall off:
Big on the other hand was quite active. He was practicing balance and hopping and flying from tree to tree. Notice his feet, I wonder what he’s been up to? He kept picking at them.
When Big was flying from tree to tree he flew to a broken branch and tried to hang onto the 2 inches that was sticking out from the tree. Here are a few shots of his antics:
He flew to the tree and tried to hang on:
He looks more like a woodpecker or a bat!
He managed to turn himself around and push off, isn’t he beautiful!
Now back to balancing, such concentration…
Big then flew to the tree with Middle and Little, first he flew to the tree next to them and landed on a big branch that broke! He had to flap those big wings to get to another tree, all that practicing paid off.
Here we are together on the same tree, ready for a nap.
May 4th – after not visiting the site for over a week I was anxious to see what the little ones were up to. First of all I couldn’t find them anywhere, I walked around the building and the forest, by the creek, by the woodpiles etc etc…
When I was about to leave I saw Mom fly to a lamp standard…
…then Big, Middle and Little! First Big and Middle flew to the planters, as they settled they preened and beaked and were just goofing off and being owlettes.
Little decided to have a rest in a tree close by – because it was quite a long flight.
Then Little flew to the planter to be with the others, she is getting so good at landing even though there was a bush in the way.
And once again they are all together…
…with Mom close by. Dad was close too but he was hiding, he was hooting to Mom and she was hooting back.