Great Horned Owlets on the move

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A couple weeks filled with great horned owls it seems. I was fortunate enough to photograph 3 separate great horned owl scenes with a variety of activity at each. The first location offered a single owlet already in the tree limbs with an adult not far off. The second nest had a pair of young owls that were still in the nest with an adult while the second adult was perched over some blue wing teal about 200 yards south. It won't be long and these 2 will be out on the limbs and learn to flap their wings. Since the adult great horned owls start their nesting in January the owlets are usually one of the first young of the year to be this active and only a few weeks until flight! 

Gray toned great horned owl perched in South Dakota

By chance, I also stumbled across a pair west of the Missouri River in South Dakota this week on another unrelated photo mission. It was beautiful to get a comparison of coloration on the adult owls as these were primarily a light gray tone. I did not see the nest of these 2 birds as it was tucked away in some cedars and I did not want to disturb them which looked likely with the position. However, I did get to watch the adult perched on an outer limb for about 2 hours, with my fingers crossed he would hunt a bit earlier than sundown - being a nocturnal bird, this has never panned out, and it was no exception - as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon the pair both began to take a high perch in some dying trees and scour the land for food.

Second gray tone great horned owl preparing for evening hunt
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growing up - great horned owlet out on a limb
mom pay attention to me - great horned owl nest
sound asleep - great horned owl nest

Bill Van der Hagen

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