Research: Great Horned Owl Antics

One of the treats of our current campground is a very active resident Great Horned Owl. In addition to hooting all night long, we can almost always easily spot her roosting in the trees above our campsite, and in the late afternoon her rovings about the campgrounds are announced by a noisy procession of angry kingbirds and orioles.

But we had never heard a noise quite as cacophonous as last night.

At least eight orioles were chattering wildly in the treetops. Kingbirds, magpies, and blackbirds flew in from every corner of the campgrounds to join in. And there was the owl, seemingly faceplanted into the side of the tree. But when she turned and flew, she had a juicy oriole fledgling in her bill.

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We watched the whole show. But instead of eating her prize, the owl began to make an odd call. And that’s when we finally noticed her chick. An awkward, mostly feathered ball of fluff perched low in a bush.

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It fast became apparent that he hadn’t mastered the whole flying thing yet.

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But beckoned by his mother’s calls and the prospect of dinner, he made a valiant effort to take to the air. But instantly toppled to the ground.

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And set to waddling across the campground.

Mom, meanwhile, sat patiently in the tree. Despite the angry orioles.

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And kingbirds.

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Eventually the father showed up as well (distinguishable by his significantly smaller stature).

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But the chick still couldn’t get his wings working. He set his sights on a slanted tree trunk, and started climbing.

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This took a while.

And was endlessly entertaining to watch.

But eventually he made it up into the branches.

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Night fell before he could make any more progress. But we’re hoping this little guy will figure out how to be a real bird soon!

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