Great Horned Owl - Baby without a nest

Great Horned Owl chick

Great Horned Owl chick

Since Great Horned Owls start nesting in January — one of (if not the) first nesting birds of the year — the winter doldrums are helped when I can find a nest to watch and photograph.  My OkieBirdCam friend, Terri Underhill, is always looking for nests and usually has much better luck than I do. And this year she found a great one — across the street from her home in Edmond.

A pair of Great Horned Owls had nesting in an abandoned Mississippi Kite nest, high in a pine tree.  Oklahoma isn’t known for having many pine trees so it was interesting to see two baby owls swaying in the prairie winds from high in the pine.  When Terri and her grandchildren found the nest in late February, there were already 2 very small chicks.  When I first had the opportunity to see the nest, the babies were getting pretty large and were taking up what little room there was in the nest.

In late March a winter storm came through and what little nest the birds had was gone… and the two young owls were nest-less and sitting in the pine tree during some strong Oklahoma winds. Homeless owls! But with monster feet that can really grip!

Within days, Terri discovered only one of the young ones was left and the not-so-little owl was wonderful to watch as he posed quite patiently while I took photos in early  April.

Great news from Terri this week — when the remaining young owl disappeared, she searched through her neighborhood and found both of the young ones in a much more suitable cottonwood tree a few acres from the pine tree. Although they’re growing and are getting flight feathers, they won’t fly for several months. This means they moved location on foot, most probably under the direction of their parents.

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