The Owlery

The continuing story of a family of Great Horned Owls - by Dave Brooks

Book Three

great_horned_owl_book3-1.jpg

Book Three covers the Great Horned Owls of 2018. This image, taken in late January, 2018, in evening twilight as one of the mated pair stopped by for a minute at the top of a redwood tree at my back yard. This was the first time I had seen the owls in a few months.

great_horned_owls_book3.jpg

January 28, 2018. Here both the male and female are in the eucalyptus trees near their nest. I have rarely seen them together here. The female will take to the nest in early February, just days away.

great_horned_owl_guard_book3.jpg

January 30, 2018. This is the male, in the trees near the nest, defending their territory and nest. The female is now on the nest. On February 1st, it was clear to me that she was incubating her eggs, as she was settled and stationary in the nest.

great_horned_owlets_in_nest_book3-1.jpg

April 4, 2018. This is my first image of one of the two young owls of 2018. Incubation took place throughout February with hatching taking place in early March. The baby owls grow from early March and by early April they look like this. They move about the nest slowly and eat often.

great_horned_owlets_in_nest_book3-2.jpg

Another shot from April 4th, from the other side of the nest. Through the eucalyptus jungle.

great_horned_owlets_in_nest_book3-3.jpg

April, 15, 2018. In just two weeks the juvenile owls are now displaying some of feathered markings of adult plumage. They are now moving about the nest at a quicker pace and in a bolder manner.

great_horned_owlets_in_nest_book3-4.jpg
great_horned_owlets_in_nest_book3-5.jpg

April 15th, 1:32pm. This is the first image of wing stretching and flexing that I was able to catch.

great_horned_owlets_in_nest_book3-6.jpg

A few minutes later they have settled down into this calm family pose.

great_horned_owlets_in_nest_book3-7.jpg
great_horned_owlets_in_nest_book3-8.jpg
great_horned_owlets_wings_book3-1.jpg

April 19, 2018, 5:04pm. Just four days later our young owls are getting rambunctious and ramping up for a life of flying.

great_horned_owlets_wings_book3-2.jpg

It kind of looks like those wings have a mind of their own, with no intention of behaving in a coordinated manner. I think there is a short span of time when the young owls have to concentrate pretty hard to get their wings moving in the synchronized timing that is needed for flight. “Arms akimbo” comes to my mind when I see this photo, the gyrations of the young.

great_horned_owlets_wings_book3-3.jpg

It looks like the sibling is observing this wing dance in great appreciation and anticipation.

great_horned_owlets_wings_book3-4.jpg

Ah, success. This young owl now has its wings working together with good position and timing.

great_horned_owlets_wings_book3-5.jpg

This owl is doing what I sometimes call a chicken-hop. It’s not really trying to fly but it’s not just walking around, rather it is taking bouncing, hopping high-steps as it moves about the nest. Probably achieving just a bit of lift from its wings for brief moments on the downstrokes.

great_horned_owlets_fly_nest_book3-1.jpg

April 30, 2018, 7:09pm. It is now eleven days later and it’s a new world here. Flight!

This fine young owl is launching into what is probably one of its first flights across the nest. Quite successfully and with great style. I love its look of concentration and determination.

great_horned_owlets_fly_nest_book3-2.jpg

Our young owl had gotten into position for takeoff by inching its way backward up the large branch to the left.

great_horned_owlets_fly_nest_book3-3.jpg

The flight would be about two and a half feet long, straight across the nest and landed neatly.

These shots were taken at one-fifth of a second between frames and they are the best I have from this exciting and fun moment in the lives of our young owls. The next book will continue following the owls of 2018 with their escapades as they fly about the world of trees.

This is the end of Book Three - Book Four will be posted in early Summer, 2019