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.