Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Featured Feathered Friend: Great Horned Owl

All this talk about the huge influx of Snowy Owls has left me with owl envy. So, to help with that, I’m reminiscing about the pair of Great Horned Owls and their chicks that we were very fortunate to see in early 2010 at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach, FL. In late February, a local birder pointed us in the direction of a pair of nesting Great Horned Owls. And thank goodness she practically held our hand to the exact spot because otherwise we probably would have NEVER found them on our own. Their mottled colors of grey, black, white and orangey-brown allowed them to camouflage so well with the tall trees and moss.

Adult Great Horned Owl basking in the sun


Oh, got an itch right there! (Check out those feathers!)

We first spotted the male standing guard on a branch. And in a nearby tree, there was the female sitting in a large nest. We could just see her little head with ear tufts popping out. Seeing these owls was truly a breath-taking experience. It was our first time seeing an owl in the wild. And to see a mating pair with a nest was even more incredible! These birds were fairly close to us, but just very high above. And once we spotted these large birds amongst all of the foliage, we could see their commanding presence.

Just taking a little nap...


Adult Great Horned Owl on the nest

We went to re-visit the owls again a month later in March hoping to see nestlings, and we had success! There were two Great Horned Owl fledglings in the nest that we had spotted weeks ago. At least one parent was nearby always keeping an eye on the babies. And we were able to view two adorable little fuzzballs keeping each other company in the nest. One was a little shyer than the other, and it took a while before the second one came out. Gladly, we were able to see them both, but probably not as well as they could see us as they peered down to check us out. So, if you have Snowy Owl envy like I do, then I hope looking at these Great Horned Owls helps a little bit. =)

A fluffy baby emerges!

Great Horned Owl chick

Adult Great Horned Owl stands guard not too far from the nest

Sleepy owl eyes

Just a wink and a smile ;-)

The second chick finally emerges for a quick glance.


  1. Yeah, I've been having some serious Owl envy this winter. This looks like an amazing sighting though, and must have been truly awesome (not awesome in the way that kids at the mall think Will Farrell movies are awesome, but awesome in the "WAAA where's my chin I think it fell off when I jaw dropped so low" kind of awesome).

    By fun coincidence, I just recently concluded that my 2011 bird of the year was an Elf Owl from September, the only other Owl I've seen besides a Great Horn.

    I love the setting in these photos, the big mossy trees and the soft lighting. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I would LOVE to see a tiny Elf Owl!

  2. Great photos. I like natural setting shots. Aren't owls impressive? I think we are the only people yet to see a snowy owl this year. Oh well.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Gene! Yes, owls are impressive. I definitely never get tired of looking at them.

  3. That's a fantastic discovery to be able to see the mating pair and the fledglings. Awesome creatures they are. I love that setting as well, with the moss streaming down from the branches.

    Last June, I got the chance to see a fledgling Great Horned Owl for the first time as well. It was amazing for me to be able to see these guys. I have some pics on my blog at

    Here in Saskatchewan we are blessed with regular sightings of Snowy Owls. Hope you get to see one some day. They are truly majestic.

    1. Thanks, Scott! The sighting was quite amazing. And how lucky you are to get to see Snowy Owls so regularly!