April 25, 2012
It has been fun discovering new things about Fort Collins as the year progresses. We had lived in St. Louis for 27 years before we moved, so it has been a long time since we’ve had a new town to explore. One of the things I learned this spring is that there is a tree that hosts a mama owl and her babies each year, right along one of the main roads in town.
For awhile, the mama owl sat on the nest to hatch the eggs and then to keep the babies warm. As the two babies grew bigger, she had to perch on a branch beside the nest. There wasn’t room for all of them in there any more. Now they’ve ventured onto the branch beside her and I suspect it won’t be too much longer before the babies learn to fly and are off on their own. Kind of sad. I like seeing them peering out over the branches on my way to and from work. But my friend Sheryl (who has lived here a long time) promises that they’ll be back again next year. That will be fun!
WH took these photos with a long lens. (Click on the photos to make them bigger.) Aren’t those faces wonderful? The babies started out all white, and just in the past week are quickly getting more and more brown feathers, which allows them to blend into trees much more effectively. Another photographer at the site told my hubby that the father owl is usually perched in a nearby tree, keeping an eye on things. And speaking of eyes – it cracks me up that they always look like they’re frowning. Or very very serious. And yikes – those talons. I would not want to get in the way of those.
Did you know that female Great Horned Owls are typically 22 inches tall with a 49 inch wingspan? That’s a big bird. They eat rodents, rabbits, and … housecats. It makes me glad that this beautiful mama and her babies are quite a distance from our house. No doubt she has to do a lot of night hunting to feed that hungry gang. We keep our cats inside, but you know I have those visiting cats that I
worry about enjoy, too.