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.
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.
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…
….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.
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: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl).