Monday, February 15, 2010

I have my eye on you, woman

and I will kill you if you threaten my young'un

A friend recently told me about a Great Horned Owl's nest in the middle of Baton Rouge. I looked for it last weekend, but I was operating under the impression I should be looking for a nest in a cavity. There was a great hollow tree at the proper location, and I saw an adult owl, but if there was a nest there, I wasn't seeing it. I did see a stick nest high in the tree....but owls don't use stick nests, right? Wrong! Apparently Great Horned Owls are opportunistic nesters -- they don't construct their own nests but will use the abandoned nests of other birds. Since they actually nest in the winter time, before other birds nest, this may actually be more of a "time share" deal -- although something I read said that GHOwl nestlings basically make such a mess of the nest there's not much left of the abode once they're done with it!

So I went back today to see if I could see any sign of baby owl life in the nest. Since there's an adult owl hanging around, it stands to reason that there are offspring there. It appears the young owl is getting self-sufficient as the adult is not "sitting" on the nest. Instead it perches some 100 yards away in a pine tree, at a height that must be appropriate for keeping a sharp eye on the little guy in the nest. I set up on the road under the nest -- not too close because I didn't want to be directly under the nest. Unfortunately, because of the lighting, while I was taking pictures of the nest my back was directly to the adult owl -- and I gotta say, this was making me VERY nervous. I kept imagining him or her swooping in on silent wings, talons extended, taking off a good chunk of my scalp. ::gulp::
Fortunately, I must not have seemed to threatening, as I walked away in one piece.


Barbara said...

Terrific shot of that baby---and the adult one too. You are so good and patient to wait for that perfect shot or is it just great editing of multi-chances and hoping!! Keep it up, daughter.

Jeff Harris said...

Nice work, Jane. I once watched a baby owl grow on a nest on ben Hur Exp Station. Same situation, an exposed stick nest in the fork of a large tree. I have read that some Great Horneds will actually drive a Bald Eagle from its nest to claim it as their own. Bad-ass birds these owls are!