Pat Hatch's PhotoJournal A blog about photography & other musings…

29Jan/101

First Good Look at the Chicks!

I got my first good look at the little ones today, albeit just a peek here and there. Mom was perched on one side of the nest as she does when she begins to let the chicks get acclimated to their environment. This will be the routine now that's she's out of the brooding mode. We can expect to see her standing on the side of the nest most of the day from now on, allowing her young to venture further and further out of the nest until one day they become "fully fledged" -- in other words, they fly for the first time. This should occur around the 1st of March.

Mom with two of her young.

I am almost ready to concede that there may only be two, although I still hold out hope that there are 3. If so, number 3 was napping today.

Name this owlet, leave a comment!

The one on the left below was really sleepy. How about that yawn! These guys are just too cute aren't they? So I'll call this one "Sleepy."

Are we keeping you up?

In the days to come, we will know if there are two or three, and we will begin to get a much better look at the hatchlings as they grow and get stronger. They will get much cuter too before shedding their fur-like feathers and they begin growing their adult feathers. Their eyes will become huge in relation to the size of their heads, and will turn a deep blue for a while. Stay tuned!

Name this owlet, leave a comment!

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26Jan/100

3 Owlets – Maybe

Today was the first day that I have seen the female leave her nest unattended. I quickly went and got my gear and set up to capture the little ones. I was sure I would see them. But they have decided to keep us in suspense a while longer. Oh, I saw them alright, but only when they bobbed their heads up and down momentarily. Mother had apparently left strict instructions to lay low. So this was all I was able to get. I did see what I thought were three different heads bobbing and weaving, but I could be wrong. At least we know there are more than one.

One of three I saw today...

One of three I saw today...

There was quite a bit of activity today with both male and female flying back and forth, in and out of the oak tree. At one time, both were in the tree. The picture below is of the male, the smaller of the two. The female is generally about 10% larger than the male. He was giving me the evil eye, that menacing look that is intended to keep predators away from their young. I noticed that when they would arrive, there would be quite a bit of hooting back and forth, which would cause the hatchlings to get quite a bit more animated in the nest, as if they were anticipating getting fed.

This is the male...

This is the male...

Just as I was running out of light and had cranked the ISO up to 2000, in comes the mother right into my frame. I just held the shutter down and probably got 30 shots of her arrival and her moving about the nest. She basically just checked her young over for about 10 seconds and flew away again. Amazing!

...and this is the female perched over her young.

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25Jan/100

Owl Update

Still no babies!  They're there.  Mama just won't them out to play yet.  It's been pretty chilly for Florida, so I presume mama just wants to keep her babies warm until the temperature gets back to normal.  Here she is this afternoon brooding her young--however many she may have under her wings.  We will be seeing them soon.

Come On, Mama, Let the Chicks Out!

Come On, Mama, Let the Chicks Out!

Great Horned Owl Male

Great Horned Owl Male

And here is a picture of the male from the other day. This was the very last of the good light, but you can still see the feet of the prey jutting out under the male.

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18Jan/102

Daddy Shows Up with Dinner

Mama Brooding Her Young

Mama Brooding Her Young

So today I was just settling in under the owl tree about an hour before sunset getting a couple of shots of mama brooding her young when all of a sudden papa owl silently alights on a nearby limb. Didn't even hear him. He announced his presence with the "who, who" call. When I looked over and saw him he was already scoping me out. Then I noticed he had his prey with him already, getting ready to feed the family. It looked like a rabbit, but all I could see were the two paws sticking out from under him. Below is a shot of both of them, mama is on the lower left. Look carefully and you'll see her.  If not, click on the picture to go full screen.

Papa's In the House

Papa's In the House

Male Great Horned with Prey

Male Great Horned with Prey

Papa Has Dinner - Takeout

Papa Has Dinner - Takeout

According to my rudimentary calculations, mama's brood would have hatched around January 8th. This is based on a 33-day incubation period. I think she will brood them for about 10 days during which time she will keep her young very close under her; their eyes will open around 7-8 days. So we should begin to see the hatchlings any day now. As a matter of fact, I thought I saw some yellow feathers a couple of days ago--this will be the first indication of the nestlings: bright yellow feathers.

If you look carefully at the photos on the left, you will see the two paws sticking out below the male. He has hold of his prey with one of his talons. I waited until there was no light remaining, but still he did not make his move towards the nest. Maybe I'll get him next time. While I was photographing him he was tearing at the flesh of his prey. I have observed in the past that the male will pull off strips of flesh to feed the female and the young. He will eat the rest of the prey, eventually regurgitating a pod consisting of the fur and bones. These pods can be found around the base of the tree below their nest.

So, I'll continue to check on them every day until I can get the first look at the hatchlings.  Wonder how many there are?  Shouldn't be long now.

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3Jan/101

Happy New Year – I Couldn’t Care Less

New Year's Day in the 40's

New Year's Day, Temperature in the 40's

Mama bear grinding it out. What's the new year to bring the owl family? We'll soon find out. I figure she's about a week away from greeting her new owlets. How many will there be? Stay tuned to find out.

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