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Belated Owl Update 1

Meanwhile, when we last left the baby great horned owls in Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, it was the middle of May. We did go and search them out on the following two weekends. Below, a report from May 21st.

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When we arrived that Saturday, we found that the owlets were becoming ever more intrepid, although still sticking to the nest tree. In fact, one owlet had regressed somewhat, and was back sitting in the actual nest, where it was impossible to get a good picture. The second owlet, however, was several branches above the nest, high enough that he could only have gotten there by flying.

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At the time, he really wasn't doing anything except sleeping in the sun. So a report from someone that one of the parents was nearby caused us to go look for that. We found one of the parents (probably the male) in some trees about 40 yards away, being harassed by bluejays and other birds.

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The harassing was so persistent that he flew from that tree, to another tree. (Seeing him in flight was really neat, although I didn't even come close to being able to get a picture. Though I believe Jen did, and posted it back nearer to the actual time it happened.)

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Where bluejay harassment continued...

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So he moved again...

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While a very bold bluejay kept following...

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Eventually, though, (perhaps the owl had finally moved sufficiently far from the bluejay's nest, or something?), the harassment died down, and the parent owl settled in on this branch (which was in view of the owl nest) for some napping.

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So we went back over to see how the babies were progressing. The lower one was still mostly invisible in the nest, but the upper one was awake.

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And preening...

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And... nibbling tree bark?

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I don't know. After the nibbling, the owlet sort of settled down for a little while, lying more prone in the crook of the branch. An odd posture, but maybe it's nestling-related or something. We will return to this in the next batch of pictures (which is the final batch, for now).

Interestingly, I also ran into this behavior with the saw-whet owls during the banding last fall. A couple of times, when releasing them, I put them on my arm and let go, and they basically just kind of laid down on their breasts like that, like they were comfortable and settling in. The two owls that did that were the two that stayed on my arm the longest before finally departing.

Eventually, though, the GH owlet got bored with that, and sat up again, looking around.

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(I like the visible change in pupil size in the last two, as the owlet focuses on something far away.)

And that was about it for that Saturday. It was getting late, and it seemed clear that they didn't have much intention of doing anything more than what we'd already seen them doing.

Next up: the following weekend.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
jenlev
Jul. 7th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
I love your photos and your narrative. fabulous. *hugs*

I'm guessing they've flown away by now, it was so great to see them, thank you!
elishavah
Jul. 8th, 2011 12:46 am (UTC)
Seriously, your camera continues to impress. Much better than what I saw with nothing but my own eyes! If only I could refocus like the owlet. :)
raqs
Jul. 8th, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
Walking through the woods with her was insane. "Look at that!" she'd say, point at nothing, take a picture, and on the camera, bam, some gorgeous piece of wildlife. Squint in real life - still nothing.

She has hawklike eyes, for sure!
raqs
Jul. 8th, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC)
Poor owls. The other birds don't like them.

That prone position is a pretty good "I'm a branch!" maneuver.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )