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The Great Horned Owl Nest
When Great Horned Owl eggs hatch, the downy owlets are the size of newborn chickens. Their mother broods them day and night. A few weeks later, the owlets can be left alone while both adults resume hunting at twilight. Great Horned Owl young remain in the nest for about six weeks, then climb out onto nearby branches. They begin taking short flights at seven weeks, and can fly well at 9-10 weeks.
Great Horned Owl Family, Part II
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
[Pair of Great Horned Owls hooting]
Today, we’re going to look in on the mated pair of Great Horned Owls we introduced awhile back on BirdNote.
Then, the female had just begun incubating two eggs. This pair occupies a large stick nest in a tall cottonwood, a nest built by Red-tailed Hawks a year earlier.
The female – which outweighs the male by a third – [Sound of female Great Horned Owl] incubated the eggs for a full month, never leaving the nest. The male Great Horned Owl [Sound of male Great Horned Owl] hunted for both, returning prey to his mate.
When the eggs hatched, the downy owlets were the size of newborn chickens. Their eyes opened after six days. The male remained the sole provider for another two weeks, until the young put on a second set of down feathers.
Now, the young can be left alone while both adult Great Horned Owls resume hunting at twilight. From elevated perches, they plunge with silent wings onto prey below. They take mice, rabbits, opossum – even skunks and young raccoons – as well as ducks and crows.
[Great Horned Owl pair hooting]
BirdNote will revisit this family of Great Horned Owls in the months ahead, following the owlets’ progress as they begin to move beyond the nest in that tall cottonwood. To see photos of Great Horned Owls, come to birdnote.org. I’m Mary McCann.
Sounds of the Great-Horned Owl provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Hoots of the pair recorded by W.R. Fish; nestlings by
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org April 2012 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# old: 032406GHOWKPLU GHOW-04b