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May 17, 2006

We're Being Watched!

This owl took the libery to make her home in a tree in our front yard! Up until now I haven't been able to get any good pictures. But yesterday she was very cooperative. So guess what we've decidec to learn about? Owls!!! This ones a great horned owl. They are the largest owl in North America. The "horns" are actually just tufts of feathers. They weigh about 3 lbs. and have a wing span of 18-25 inches. They fly almost silently. She can come back and forth from the nest and we hardly notice except that she is gone. When we were cleaning up the bush she stayed through all the tractor and people noise but got "scared off" when she heard a large tree crack. We thought she might not come back, but she did. Owls do not build nests. They find nests abandoned by other birds like hawks. This nest looks very rickity and I wonder how it can hold the mother and her little ones. They lay between 1 & 3 eggs. Both the mother and the father incubate the eggs. (So I guess I shouldn't keep calling them a she!) The eggs hatch 26-35 days after they are laid. We saw a broken egg on the ground under the nest a couple of weeks ago, but so far we have seen no baby action. At 6-7 weeks the young venture out onto nearby branches. By 10 weeks they are learning to fly. The first summer the young owls continue to live in the same area as their parents. By fall they will fly off to find their own territory. So I guess we will hear a little more hoo, hoo, hooing around our yard this summer. The parents split up when the babies are on their own. They are solitary animals that prefer to live alone. Right now we enjoy listening to them 'talk' to each other back and forth. So that's all for now. We will keep you posted on future happenings with our owl friends!

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