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4.9.17  Thanks to a lead, I arrived at a Great Horned Owl nest east of the Deschutes River just in time to see the incubation stage.  This is Mom, sitting on the nest.  Dad is in a nearby tree watching my every move.  Fortunately for me, this nest is just off a quiet road, so I grab a couple of quick shots, then leave so I don’t disturb the family.

4.20.17  I began the day at sunrise from Catherine Creek before heading out to the Great Horned Owl nest.

I find Mama still incubating.  Great Horned Owls incubate for 30 to 37 days and typically use the old nest of another large bird.  Thanks to a resident who stopped to chat with me, I learned that the owl and a Red-tailed Hawk fight over this nest and another about a mile down the road each year.

I searched for and found Dad in a tree near the nest.  I know if there’s a Mama in the nest, Dad is likely nearby.  He keeps the family fed while she keeps the family warm.  When the chick is old enough to stay home alone, both parents hunt.

4.23.17  Mama still incubating and Dad was hunting in the distance.  Yes, in broad daylight!  Great Horned Owls eat a smorgasbord of mammals, birds, and reptiles.  The list is longer than any of my other raptors in this series.  I offer a link for you at the bottom of this post.

5.2.17   Great Horned Owl still in nest……..WAIT!  Is that a chick???

YES!  A fuzzy little Great Horned Owlet joins the family, I’m so excited to see it!!

5.4.17   I try to drive by slowly, stopping barely long enough to snap a few pictures and move on.  I am thrilled to see the owlet’s fuzzy little face.  There is a shoulder I can park on, but I can’t see the nest from there.  It’s all I can do to not park my car in the middle of the road and just watch!

5.11.17   Little Owlet misses nothing as I slowly drive by.  The nestling period for a Great Horned Owl is 42 days.  If this nest weren’t so far from home I’d be here every one of those 42 days!

Great Horned Owl parent watches me from a field.  Like most raptors, the female is larger than the male, so I think this is Mom.

I drive to a nearby Red-tailed Hawk nest, observe for an hour or so, then return to the owlet on my way back down to the river.  This has become my pattern allowing me to see the owlet twice without too much disturbance.

5.15.17   Mama gets some sleep while Junior keeps an eye out.

5.19.17  From time to time I park on the shoulder and try to peer around trees.  With my brown pants and green hoodie I get into the character of a tree.  Junior doesn’t buy it, so I leave.

5.23.17  I arrive to an EMPTY nest!  The Owlet is too young to fly away but I know they can climb in and out of their nest at 5 weeks.  I search but can’t find him and more worrisome is I find neither parent around.  I park and walk the entire length of this hardwood forest to no avail.

5.25.17   As I drive slowly by, searching the area for Junior again, I suddenly spot him high on a branch!  Two days ago I don’t remember if I looked UP so I have to laugh at myself!

He was more easily seen on my drive back down to the river after checking nearby nests.  Yes plural!  Today a woman stopped to chat for a moment and shared the location of yet another Red-tailed Hawk nest.  Thank you!!

5.30.17  The Great Horned Owlet continues to mature each time I find him.  Owls are silent when they fly and their feathers are oh so soft.  Most raptor rehabilitation centers have a ‘Birds of Prey’ program where you can see for yourself.

Owls can live long lives ~ I believe I read one was found that was 28 years old in the wild; and in captivity one turned 50 at a zoo.  Those admitted to rehabilitation centers have typically been hit by a car, shot, electrocuted, or caught in barbed wire.  They can also starve if food sources are scarce.

6.3.17   I leave most mornings in time to see the sun come up on my way to check nests.

Each morning I wonder if the Owlet will still be here.  Yes!  There he is, perched on a branch closer to the field than to the road.

On my way back down he’s perched on a different branch, close enough to see those long sharp talons.

6.8.17   Today was gray, rainy, and looked pretty miserable for the little Owlet.

6.10.17  I saw a parent sitting on a snag near the field, but didn’t see the Owlet, so decided to park and look around.  You can barely see the parent, he blends in so well with his environment.

All of a sudden, the Owlet burst out in front of me and took off in flight.  Sorry little guy, didn’t mean to startle you!!

He flew across the field….

…and landed near some pretty wildflowers.  Soon he’ll fly away and not look back.

6.13.17   The Owlet is getting more and more difficult to locate, but yay, I found him again.  I’m grateful this road gets so little traffic, and I apologize to the residents if I ever block your lane.

On my way down the hill, he was more out in the open, but started to climb down the branch at my arrival.  I want to emphasize that I try my best to not interfere, interrupt or otherwise disrupt any activity, so I quickly move on.

6.15.17  Another day of rain, but at least it’s a light rain.  Owlet continues to mature.

6.17.17  My last sighting of the Owlet was a warm and sunny day.  Had I known this was my last opportunity with him, I’d have stayed a little longer soaking in those beautiful feathers and mesmerizing eyes.  I can only hope that I get this lucky again next year…..

For more information about Great Horned Owls:  Cornell’s All About Birds, Audubon, and International Owl Center  There are many more pages to check, these will get you started.

The introductory post in this series where you’ll find links to my other nests as I post them is Empty Nest

 

Steider Studios.Sunset.5.31.15

A beautiful sunset last night closed out the month of May.  It was full of hard work, but also full of adventure and good friends.

Steider Studios.Garden work fence finished.5.31.15

Yesterday my friend & neighbor Katie popped in with a trunk full of tools to help me repair my veggie garden fence.  After we finished I started planting this years crop.  Today I’ll buy more seeds and finish – I can already taste those yummy fresh veggies – an assortment of lettuce, zukes, cukes, carrots, and more!  Below the veggies are grapes and blackberries.

Slash pile burning

My giant ‘Slash Pile Burn‘ Fuel Reduction project through Department of Natural Resources is finally finished with paperwork submitted!  That was a long, hard, cathartic project, and I’m glad it’s done!  Yay ME!!  The image above is my friend Eileen who came up one morning & helped with her husband Jim.

Steider Studios.Friends

My fabulous ‘Gorge Glass Girls’ (Leila, Terri, Charlene, Kathy and Carolyn (who isn’t in this shot, but also an instigator),  gave me a wonderful gift:

Steider Studios.After Wings 5.27.15-3

They hired young men from ‘Wings’ to help bring up firewood from my now-cleared and burned forest.  These sweet, polite and respectful, hard-working young men – under the direction of Walt – brought up firewood from the farthest point of my property to the woodpile outside my back door.  They cut branches into wood-stove lengths and stacked as much as they could in a day.  Image above shows the remaing piles of firewood and I have all summer to leisurely haul it up.

Steider Studios.Merganser Family.Stevenson.5.25.15

My friend Nancy & I have been out on several photo adventures, looking for wildlife.  While chasing down a lead for a Wood Duck family we found a Hooded Merganser family!

Steider Studios.Heron in Flight.Ridgefield.5.11.15

We went to Ridgefield NWR, one of our favorite spots to photograph birds.

Steider Studios.Red-breasted Sapsucker.5.14.15

We went to Conboy Lake NWR for a day where we ran into friends who showed us a Red-breasted Sapsucker nest – can’t wait to go back and photograph babies!!

Steider Studios.Wood Duckling.Pink Reflection.5.11.15

And we went to Crystal Springs to watch Wood Ducklings learn how to be a duck.

Steider Studios.Owlet.Bingen Marina.5.15.15

I’ve also traversed the Columbia River watching my favorite little owl family grow up…..I plan to write a post on their progress from when I first found them.

Steider Studios.Pileated Woodpecker.Home.5.3.15

As I worked in my back woods all these months, I’ve watched more birds come to my now-open forest, like this Pileated Woodpecker;

Steider Studios.Western Tanager.5.15.15

and Western Tanager.

Steider Studios.Elk at Conboy Lake NWR

Now with most of my hard work finished, I plan to spend more time at Conboy Lake NWR watching for baby elk, baby birds, and maybe even see a baby otter this year!!  You’ll find me along the Columbia River checking all the Osprey and Woodpecker nests that I find.  And anywhere else that looks like a promising adventure!

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