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Adolescent Owls Hold "Hands" & Prepare for a Night Out
This is Part I of a series of short videos I am making about a Great Horned Owl family that lives in my neighborhood. It documents 2 young Great Horned Owls having a hard time waking up after a hard-day's sleep. Then it follows them as they gradually become very active and fierce as darkness falls.
These adolescent owls are probably about 4-5 months old at the time of filming. They are excellent flyers and I suspect that they are capable of catching prey.
One adult owl stays nearby, however, I have rarely seen the adult interact with the adolescents. I found skunk remains in an owl pellet below the roost of one of young owls. I don't know if the skunk was caught by the youngster or given to it by the adult owl.
The owls frequently bob and circle their heads, often in a comical way! Naturalists believe that this behavior helps them to better judge the distance to objects of interest. You may have noticed the "horns" or "ear tufts" of feathers starting to sprout from the top of their heads. Although these tufts of feathers look like ears in adult owls, they are not. The rather large ears are actually located and hidden behind the flat disc area of feathers around their eyes.
Typically, in the field, size is used to tell a male from a female Great Horned Owl. Males weigh about 15% less than females. So, in the video, where the two young owls are "holding hands" I suspect that the larger one on the right is a female, and the other one its male sibling.
Of all North American owls, Great Horned Owls live the longest. The documented record is over 28 years! One of the most common causes of human related deaths of Great Horned Owls is getting blinded by headlights and subsequently hit by cars. Another cause of death is eating poisoned rodents that are easily captured by the owls. So, if you have a rodent problem, please use traps instead of poison to control them.
Another interesting fact about Great Horned Owls is that they don't build their own nests. They take over other bird's nests made by hawks, ospreys, crows, etc. or they may nest in the hollow of a tree or other protected structure. They mate and lay their eggs earlier than most birds, so they have an advantage of occupying other birds nests before the original nest-makers are ready to use them.
If you would like to learn more about these fascinating raptors, an excellent book is available at http://bit.ly/1lqG4h4.
Stay tuned for additional short videos about this interesting Great Horned Owl family. Subscribe to my channel for notification of new videos.
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