Nest of Miracles

My recent sighting of the juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owl reminded me of last year’s Great-horned Owl nest I had occasion to observe over the course of several months. Between February 16 and May 7, 2021, I watched the nest transform from egg incubator to owlet crib to too-crowded nursery. I was so excited about the experience that I published a post on May 5, only to make one more visit to the growing juveniles two days later, which I’m sharing today.

So it is with apologies to those of you who have already read and/or commented to this post that I’m reposting it with the addition of two more photos of the owl siblings after they achieved more independence and ventured out of their nursery. I have since seen several adults at the same location, but whether or not they represent the older owlet selves from this nest I couldn’t say.


When I found the Great Horned Owl in the image above on February 16, 2021, I was happy, as I had been hoping to see one in this particular Colorado Springs park (Bear Creek East) for quite a while. I was especially happy because the owl was sitting on a nest. In order to avoid attracting predators, a nest should be inconspicuous, and I thought the owl couple had chosen their nursery well (they typically appropriate nests built by other birds). Even with Mrs. Owl sitting on what I assumed were eggs, she was barely visible, as some of you noted when I showed this photo in a previous post.

March 23, 2021

I was determined to keep an eye on this nest in hopes of seeing owlets. When I returned on March 23, I saw something white and fluffy next to the adult, but although I waited a while for movement and zoomed in as much as my camera allowed from a distance that did not seem to bother the bird(s), I could not make out if this represented a baby owl or leftover fur from a meal.

April 5, 2021

April 5, 2021

Imagine my delight when, on April 5, there was definitive, big-eyed proof that the egg(s) had hatched. Even then, it wasn’t clear to me if the nestling was an only child, or if it had a sibling. The mound in front of the owlet did not budge, but I had a sneaking suspicion…

April 28, 2021

….which was confirmed on April 28. Hooray! While I always thought the nest was well-camouflaged,  it seemed slightly small, and those two owlets had very little room to move.


May 7, 2021: Both owlets had left the nest and were starting to explore their surroundings

May 7, 2021: “Who are you?”


I sincerely hope the owlets continued to thrive, became strong fledglings, and grew into healthy adults who will eventually have offspring of their own. 🦉🦉

Great Horned Owls typically nest in trees. Clutch size varies from 1 to 4 eggs. The incubation period is between 30 and 37 days. Only the female incubates the eggs. The nestling period lasts about 42 days (according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

84 thoughts on “Nest of Miracles

  1. Congrats, Tanja, to your magic encounter with the great horned owl and her adorable little “trolls”. One must have really sharp eyes to discover that well-camouflaged owl as it blends in with the nest and I keep my fingers crossed for their survival.
    Best wishes, Meggie

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Meggie. You were one of my fellow bloggers who commented on how well the mother owl was hidden among the branches of the nest when I showed her photo earlier this year!
      I will pass on your good wishes to this local owl family from Sweden, thank you! 🙂
      All the best,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful even to see an adult, and to get good views of some chicks too is such a rare privilege. I’m so jealous…I’d always hoped we’d see a Great Horned Owl on one of our trips to the US, but no such luck. Let’s hope the chicks make it to adulthood.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Liebe Tanja,
    ein sehr beeindruckender Einblick in die Eulenkinderstube!
    Die Tarnfarben und Gefiedermuster scheinen mir wirklich ein guter Sichtschutz zu sein.
    Windige Grüße von mir zu Dir

    Liked by 1 person

    • Danke, liebe Ulrike. Deine windigen Grüße sind über den Ozean und den halben Kontinent hierher geblasen. 😊
      Ich bin immer wieder erstaunt, wie leicht es ist, an einer Eule vorbeizulaufen, ohne sie zu sehen. Meist erkenne ich sie nur, weil die Silhouette irgendwie auffällt.
      Dir ein angeehmes, weniger windiges Wochenende,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. All that looking paid off with these wonderful images, Tanja. That nest is so well camouflaged that I am surprised you saw her at all. And congratulations on getting the shots of the young owlets peering out between the sticks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m surrounded by people who see owls and owlets, and hear them regularly, but I’ve yet to see anything like this. I have seen a couple of owls on the wing, but none in trees, and none on a nest. Of course, as your photos make clear, they’re not exactly clamoring for attention. Even in photos, and sometimes even when pointed out, they can be hard to see; they certainly are masters of camouflage! They’re also adorable.

    Do you have snowy owls there? That’s an owl I’d travel to see — but they may be even farther north than you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure your owl moment(s) will come, Linda, it’s only a matter of time (and possibly intel–have you considered looking up owl sightings on eBird in your vicinity?).
      With regard to snowy owls, they usually live farther to the north, but every once in a while, a vagrant will show up. One individual was seen in Pueblo, which is a town about 40 miles south from here. I still regret that I didn’t make the relatively short trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well spotted, Tanja. Both nest and owl are extremely well camouflaged.

    How lucky you were to have the opportunity to return several times and actually capture the owlets in a photo. I would have been beside myself in excitement to be in your place 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy Tanja! Wow, nice photos of these cute owls. How exciting that you discovered the nest – warum schreibe ich eigentlich auf Englisch ;-)? Tolle Entdeckung und wie schön, daß du die Eulen so gut fotografieren konntest. Zu niedlich! Ich hoffe auf mehr Bilder. Hoffentlich kommen beide Jungeulen durch. Das wäre zu schön. Vielleicht siehst du sie ja sogar noch, wenn sie das Nest verlassen. Diese Eulenart erinnert mich an die Waldkäuze hier. Leider habe ich die noch nie gesehen, nur einmal gehört. Ich drücke die Daumen, daß du sie noch mal sichten kannst! LG Almuth

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Carol. This owl family’s life cycle remains one of my most memorable wildlife observation. An owl’s stare always makes me stop in my tracks and if I were a mouse, it would certainly be intimidating. 🐭

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Although not proud of the emotion, I must admit I’m quite jealous that you had such extraordinary access to the owl nest. How fun to have returned several times and document the young bird’s development. This story is fun to read and no doubt a cherished memory for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m often quite jealous of your beautiful sunrises and animal encounters, Steve, so it’s ok if you want to feel a little jealous in return. 🙂
      Being able to watch this nest and the miraculous development of the two owlets is indeed a special and, so far, unique experience, and one I hope never to forget and always to cherish.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.