April 06, 2009

A Great Horned Owl at Home

Last year when M. and I visited Libby and Steve Bodio, we looked in on this owl nest in Socorro County, New Mexico, but it was empty.

But this year we saw a great horned owl on her nest.

They are one of my favorite species, not least for their weird variety of calls.

4 comments:

Camera Trap Codger said...

I just love those big ol' owls too. They must have a nest in there, thougb I suspect the nesting season is nearly over.

Chas S. Clifton said...

You're probably right, if you assume a December-January mating time.

No way to check the nest hole without rappelling down to it, which was not feasible for various reasons.

retrieverman said...

On the ridge where I grew up, you could hear the barred owls calling in late winter and early spring, marking their territories and making the wild turkey toms gobble. (These are the owls that say, "Who, who cooks for you... oo?") I would often see them hunting deer mice and voles along the forested lanes where I walk my dog, silently gliding from tree to tree like gray phantoms.

Towards the end of last, I heard the barred owls fire up for a few nights, and then I heard another type of hooting. And the barred owls disappeared.

Driving home one night, I spotted an opossum at the edge of driveway, which is several hundred yards long and goes through a stand of dense timber. Suddenly that opossum froze-- as they often do when caught in the headlights. And then a huge, great-horned owl swept down from the trees on it.

This was the owl I heard hooting, and because they often kill or drive out barred owls, it was the reason why the great gray birds were no longer around.

This year, the great horned owl is nowhere to be found. I sure there was a pair of them that nested on this ridge, but they probably moved on to better habitat. The only owls I've heard this year are barred owls, and I've seen them coursing the wooded lanes once again. I've heard their screaming mating rituals in the forest once again.

But I know that if don't hear them again and I hear the distant hooting of a great horned owl, that big owl is once again king of the night.

smartdogs said...

We apparently live in excellent owl habitat. Great Horned owls, barred owls, saw whet owls - we hear them nightly this time of year. We see the barred owls a lot. The others mostly just inform us of their presence by their calls -- or the miscellaneous viscera and severed heads they leave in our yard.