Friday, March 11, 2011

Babies First Pics

About a week and a half ago, on March 1st, I decided to go out and do some birding after work, since it was a relatively nice day. Since the temps were starting to get a bit warmer I decided to head over to Black Dog Lake to see if there were any early waterfowl to photograph. Black Dog has a power plant that keeps part of the water open through out the year so it is usually a good place to look for mergansers or other waterfowl in the late winter. Unfortunately the construction that seems to have been going on for months was not completed so instead of fighting through the construction I decided to check out a great horned owl nest that is in the area.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the nest was occupied. Even though I have photographed this nest for two years in the past I did not find any owls at the nest last year when I checked so I was not too hopeful. In the past this pair has been on the nest at the end of January or beginning of February so I figured that they may already have eggs that have hatched. I confirmed this when I returned last weekend early in the morning and found both adults off the nest hunting. At that point I still could not see any chicks but today they got up high enough for me to get a couple of shots. Here is a close up of the chicks and mom.
Before the eggs hatch it's the males job to bring home enough food for both, but at this point the chicks are probably eating enough that both parents need to leave the nest to hunt, weather permitting. The chicks are still small enough where they can not go to long with out mom to keep them warm, so typically mom stays on the nest during the day while dad finds a perch in the woods nearby. Both will hunt around dusk and dawn.
With their camouflage it is often difficult to find the male however the crows usually seem to have better luck. Crows do not like large avian predators around, especially great horned owls, because they will eat the crows young. So when they find one they will raise a ruckus and dive at the predator. This is called mobbing and although the owl is not in any physical danger from the crows they are so annoying that eventually the owl will move.


John S. Mead said...

Excellent post! Love the GHO images and the education you help provide in all your posts! Kudos again!

VioletSky said...

Amazingly clear shots. I usually have to go on those birdcams to see the little ones.

Anonymous said...

great shots!

BJ Roan said...

Such beauty and grace. Wonderful photos. And babies, lucky you!

Ricky said...

Great shots, I'm still waiting to see owls here in Wisconsin, but I will go Owl hunting in the next few weeks,