Monday, 03-29-21, I spent a couple hours looking for the Barred Owl,
but I didn’t find it. I also went and checked on Hoot, the Great Horned
Owl. When I checked on her she was laying low in the nest with the 20+
mile an hour winds. The owlets were up there somewhere. Today was just
the daily photo so I went in took the shot and left. It’s supposed to be
another windy day tomorrow.
Also, the last time I was in this particular area there was a
dead squirrel that was pulled half way out of the cavity. Before that I
saw the outline of a squirrel tail that hadn't moved for about a week.
Today I saw what looks like a sleeping racoon in the cavity. I wonder if
this was originally the home of a squirrel when the racoon showed up to
take possession of the cavity.
03-30-21, I went to check on Hoot, the female Great Horned Owl, and her
two owlets. The winds have been blowing 20+ mph again today. When I got
to the nest it was moving back and forth. Hoot was laying low as was
the owlet next to her on her right. I’m guessing that the other owlet
was up in front of her. There’s not much room up on the nest for all
three now that the two owlets have gotten so much bigger and for any
food (rabbit) that is stored up there until it's feeding time. Here are
the daily photos….
On Sunday, 03-28-21, I was in the area of Hoot’s nest at 1130 hrs. I
could see from a distance Hoot on the nest feeding the two owlets. I was
planning to come back later in the afternoon.
back out to her area at about 1630 hrs I heard the familiar sounds of
several crows in the area of her nest. When I got to the nest I could
only see one of the owlets in the nest. The crows were another 30 yards
away. I looked with my binoculars and could see Hoot being mobbed by
I began setting up my gear. Once I was done I
glassed the area where I last saw Hoot, but I didn’t see her anymore.
She didn’t go far because the crows were still making lots of noise in
the same general area.
There were so many branches in front of
the nest that the owlets were very hard to capture in photographs, so I
took mostly video and just observed.
Hoot came back to the area
of the nest at 1753 hrs, then after 5 to 10 minutes landed on the nest.
It was feeding time for the little ones. Once again it was rabbit on the
Hoot feed the owlets for about 30 minutes before flying
off. This time she flew further away although I didn’t see her land. I
stayed at the nest for the next hour until sunset at 1930 hrs. The
owlets dosed for awhile after eating, then it was grooming time.
I spent 3 hours at the nest, until sunset.
Here is a photo of Hoot's, the female Great Horned Owl, youngest owlet, on Sunday, 03-28-21.
Today, Saturday, 03-27-21, my plan was to go out and spend a few hours time with Hoot, the female Great Horned Owl, and her two owlets. It had been raining several hours, but it looked like it was going to end at around 1700 hrs. Although, every time I checked the radar the rain kept getting pushed back later and later. It now was supposed to stop 20 minutes before sunset. I’ve been waiting long enough so I decided to go out anyways, maybe the rain would cease when I got out there.
There was still a light rain when I left the house, but I had my wool clothes and rain gear on. When I got to Hoot, she didn’t even bother to turn her head towards me. I went to my spot and dropped my backpack, unzipped it and proceeded to get my lens on my camera. Hoot still hadn’t looked at me.
Since she was sitting facing the opposite direction where I would set up my tripod, I decided to walk to an another spot to get a photo of her, if she looked my way. She finally acknowledged my presence by turning her head toward me and I even got a little smile out of her :) before I took her picture.
There wasn’t going to be any activity on the nest until it stopped raining so I packed up my gear and left.
Here are a few photos of Hoot’s owlets taken on Wednesday, 03-24-21. I included the one image of the older owlet spreading its wings showing that the flight feathers are starting to emerge. My guess the older owlet is approximately three weeks old. Based upon averages the younger , smaller owlet would be a couple days younger.
On, Thursday, 03-25-21, I went out and spent a little over 2 1/2 hours with Hoot, the female Great Horned Owl, and her two owlets. She spent the better part of 2 hours feeding the owlets and herself. It looks like they were having rabbit for dinner.
Hoot left the nest at 1906 hrs to go meet up with Give a Hoot, the male. Once again she left me in charge of watching her two owlets while she was gone. They were behaving themselves tonight and weren't moving around much so I packed up my gear and was walking out of the woods at 1926 hrs.
On Wednesday, 03-24-21, I went out to check on Hoot, the female Great Horned Owl, and her two owlets after the last two days of rain. When I got to the area I took my daily photo of her looking all wet, then I set up my tripod with camera for some video and photos. I would spend the next 3 hours observing her different behaviors.
I watched one of the owlets for awhile moving in and out of Hoot’s breast feathers before the second owlet finally popped its head out. I’ve enjoyed watching Hoots interactions with her owlets, she’s so gentle with them.
Today I was able to video the older owlet being fed a complete vole/mouse. The owlet swallowed it whole. It needed to stop a few times, but it finally got it completely down. Then Hoot reached into another part of the nest and got another vole/mouse. This time she ripped it into smaller pieces to feed it to the smaller, younger owlet. There was a slightly larger piece left at the end and the older owlet grabbed it and ate it , too.
Hoot flew off the nest at 1800 hrs. I just turned off the video at 1829 hrs because I was going to leave just when Hoot arrived back at the nest, so I missed her landing. I turned the video back on and you can hear her making some soft sounds to her owlets while Give a Hoot, the male, is calling in the distance.
Hoot settled back into the nest and the owlets once again got between her legs and underneath her breast feathers. Pretty soon there isn’t going to be enough room up in the nest for all three.
Hoot normally will leave the nest around sunset, but it’s not unusual for her to leave early, either. Due to all the rain she might not have left the nest for a couple days because of the constant rain. I don’t believe she came back with any food this time.
Once Hoot was back on the nest I caught a glimpse of Give a Hoot leaving his perch about 5 minutes later and about 30 yards further away from the nest. I decided to pack up my gear and head out. I figured Hoot might be leaving the nest again in about an hour or so closer to sunset or Give a Hoot would be dropping off the first round of food and then continue throughout the night.
On Monday, 03-22-21, I went back out to keep Hoot, the female Great Horned Owl, company for four hours while she sat on her nest.
The older owlet appears to have its eyes completely open today and appears happy to be stretching out its wings, although I was a little nervous especially after mom left to meet up with Give a Hoot, the male. She left me with a lot of responsibility to look after these two owlets.
Earlier on, Sunday, 03-21-21, I went to check on Hoot, the female Great Horned Owl, without taking my camera. I was planning to sit out with her later in the afternoon, but with the high winds she had her tail into the wind. A few hours later I went back out with my camera and took a couple photos and immediately left. The way she was positioned in the nest with the high winds I wouldn't be able to see/photograph the owlets.
After being a home awhile, I decided to go out a little further away from the nest about an hour before sunset and set up my recorder to record any territorial calls by either Hoot or Give a Hoot, the male Great Horned Owl. When I got out there around 1830 hrs. it was already pretty dark with some rain clouds moving in. Shortly after I got in the area there was a brief, light sprinkle of rain.
I glassed the nest from a distance and I couldn’t see Hoot. I maneuvered slightly to get a better view through the branches, but she wasn’t there. While looking at the nest I caught the glimpse of some white. I made my way over where I’ve been setting up to photograph her on the nest, but now I couldn’t see any white. I continued to glass the nest and eventually the top of a little white head popped up above the rim of the nest.
After setting up my camera/tripod I was able get some video and some photos. There are a couple owlets in the nest. One of them has their eyes partially open and the other one still has its eyes closed. I wasn’t able able to hear any calling by either Hoot or Give a Hoot, if any calling took place, because the strong wind was blowing away from the nest.
While photographing the owlets I saw one of the adult Great Horned Owls, flying toward the nest. I thought at first it was the male, but after viewing the video it appears it was Hoot coming back to check on her owlets. I wasn’t able to focus on her with my long lens after locating her as she didn’t stick too long. She flew off to continuing hunting. I left before she came back to the nest for the evening.
Friday, 03-19-21, I went out and took Hoots daily picture...
Saturday, 03-20-21, I went out looking for the Barred Owl which I didn’t find. So I went to check on Hoot, the female Great Horned Owl, who is on a nest. I was concerned how her nest was holding up in today’s strong wind. It appeared to be doing alright. I was glad that they are still brooding so less likely they would be blown out of the nest.
Since I got done earlier than I thought looking for the Barred Owl, I actually set up my gear and was planning to watch Hoot for awhile. She was positioned with her tail into the wind. After I took a couple shots it appeared the shots weren’t going to be as good as if she was turned around and the fact I wouldn’t able able to see the owlets I packed up after a few minutes and left.
On Friday, 03-19-21, I went out and sat with Hoot for another 4 hours. It was a Friday afternoon with warmer temperatures. There were more distractions and disturbances from all the activities taking place around where she is nesting.
On 03-17-21 the last time I spent 4 hours with Hoot I saw that there were two owlets in the nest. One of them appeared to have its eyes partially open and the other with its eyes closed.
While reviewing the video clips on, 03-19-21, it appears that only one owlet, the one with its eyes closed, was the only one active today. If I saw the one owlet I thought I would have seen the other one active as well. The owlet with its eyes partially open would be a couple days older.
Sunset was at 1925 hrs. I couldn’t hear any calls from Give a Hoot while I was watching Hoot, but at 1925 hrs Hoot flew off the nest for her meeting with him and to grab some food. She usually flies off the nest around sunset or shortly afterwards.
I packed up my gear and as I was walking out I could hear Give a Hoot making territorial calls in the distance. He probably didn’t come any closer to Hoot tonight, because of all the activity taking place around her nesting area.
On Wednesday, 03-17-21, I went out and spent fours hours of quality time with Hoot, the female Great Horned Owl, who is sitting on a nest.
I’ve mentioned before that I saw Hoot roosting in a spruce tree on 02-03-21. Then the nest time I found her on 03-09-21 on the nest, but I don’t know the exact date she started nesting.
Since I’ve located her on the nest I’ve gone out every day to check on her and take a few photos, but only spending a few minutes at a time with her.
I’ve also put out my GoPro on 03-11-21 and 03-14-21 to get an idea what’s going on in the nest. Although the GoPro video doesn’t give me a close up view of the activity taking place, I have seen Hoot with her head in the nest to either move the eggs, rearrange any nesting material or even the possibility of tending to or grooming an owlet.
Hoot is nesting in an area with several branches blocking all my views of her so I’m not able to get any clear photographs without any unwanted distracting branches. I get what I get… :)
Today, I decided to go out and sit and watch her for several hours. I ended up watching her for 4 hours. I brought my 500mm f/4 Nikon lens with my 1.4x teleconverter to grab some images and some video.
I knew I couldn’t stay out where I’ve been taking my daily photos of her, because I would most likely be spotted by someone in the amount of time I planned to be with her. I knew I would have to hide so my chances were even slimmer to come away with any video/photographs that didn’t have any distracting branches. Again, I was there to mostly observe, but it would be nice to get some nice images/video, too.
I got to Hoot who was on the nest at 1530 hrs and I took my daily photo, then proceeded to get small and hide. :) While getting out my tripod I saw out of the corner of my eye an owl fly off. I also saw what scare it away. I first thought it was Hoot, but she was still on the nest. It was, Give a Hoot, the male Great Horned Owl, who must have been perched somewhere near her.
For the next four hours I sat and observed while taking both photographs and video. I started my video every time I saw Hoot flinching, so I had about 100 video clips. I eventually saw an owlet who appeared very small. It wasn’t until I got home and reviewed the video clips that I saw that there were actually two owlets.
Give a Hoot must have only flew off some 50 yards when I first got there, because over an hour later the crows spotted him. I could see several crows mobbing him in the distance and making a lot of noise for about 15 minutes. Then at 1900 hrs. I saw him fly back toward Hoot, but it was another half hour or so before he began doing some territorial calls.
It appeared when Give a Hoot began calling that the owlets began responding to his calls and became more active. They began their little begging calls, too.
I left the area at 1935 hrs so Hoot could fly off and join Give a Hoot, so she could bring back some food. While packing up my gear Hoot flew off the nest in Give a Hoots direction. The two prior times I had my GoPro recording her she left the nest within a half hour of sunset.
On Sunday, 03-14-21, I set up my GoPro on Hoot, the female Great Horned
Owl, who is on a nest in Minnesota. This was the second time I placed a
GoPro out to watch her. The last time was on 03-11-21. Although, the
video lacks the detail seeing exactly what Hoot is doing up in her nest
the video certainly gives a good idea of her interactions with, Give a
Hoot, the male Great Horned Owl.
I have spent several hours
photographing/video Hoot since late summer of 2020. I’ve also
photographed/video , Give a Hoot, but not as many hours as with Hoot.
I’ve also spent many days and many more hours walking the woods looking
for both owls.
Lately, most of my time I will locate Give a Hoot
at least 0.5 to 0.6 miles from where Hoot is nesting. Hoot had moved
out of her normal territory late in December 2020 because what I believe
might have been too much human activity during the winter months. Also,
an area nearby had several trees cut down and I know one of them was a
favorite place for her to roost in the summer. I’ve read one study
mentioning the male will roost approximately 100 meters from where the
female would be nesting. Where Hoot is nesting isn’t a place where I
would expect her to nest, but that might be because of the lack of nest
sites in the area.
After Hoot left her normal area after
12-25-20 I didn’t locate her again until 02-02-21 and 02-03-21 roosting
in another area. I don’t know when she actually began nesting, but the
day I put out my GoPro was the 39th day, since I last saw her roosting
in another area. On average it takes 30 days for eggs to hatch.
placed the GoPro out at approximately 1350 hrs and left it running for
about 7 1/2 hrs. The temperature was about 44 degrees in the afternoon
and it was 38 degrees at 2100 hrs. It was also a very windy day. Sunset
for my location was 1918 hours.
The first territorial call was
was done by Give a Hoot at 1911 hrs. who isn’t seen in the video. Hoot
immediately returns the call as I can see her raising her tail when
making the call. Then another call by Give a Hoot. Shortly afterwards
Give a Hoot is seen flying and landing on the top of a conifer to the
right of the nest 46 seconds after his first call. Hoot makes another
call as Give a Hoot is just about to land. I’ve made some notes
throughout the video.
I don’t believe Hoot makes another call or
if she did I couldn’t hear her, but Give a Hoot makes about 34 calls in
the next 10 minutes before Hoot jumps out of the nest onto a branch
just before flying off at 1922 hrs.
Give a Hoot stays on top of
the conifer while giving another 6 territorial calls before flying off
in Hoots direction at 1925 hrs. They are no longer seen in the video,
but it sounds like they are both calling back and forth because of the
much shorter duration between the calls. Because of the surrounding
noise it’s difficult to distinguish which owl is calling. The male has a
Hoot flies back to the nest at 1944 hrs, so she was off the nest for 22 minutes. Due to the compression of the video clip it was too dark to see her come back to the nest so I didn’t include it, although I can see her fly back on my file in Lightroom. I listened for another 10 minutes and I couldn’t hear anymore calling.
I included two images of Hoot on the nest on 03-14-21 when I set out the GoPro and two images on 03-15-21 when I picked up the camera.
On Thursday, 03-11-21, I decided to set up my GoPro on Hoot while she was on her nest. The GoPro was set out at about 1700 hours and recorded for 4 hours until about 2100 hours.
Where I’m located sunset was at 1614 hrs. The temperature was in the mid 40 F when I set the camera out and it was still above freezing at 2100 hrs.
The date and time keeps resetting to the default settings on my GoPro so I’ve stopped entering the correct times. My times mentioned in this narrative are only the approximate times. Also, some information will be vague because I don’t want to give out any possible clues where she is nesting.
The GoPro video clips show the distance to the nest farther away than it actually was so I heavily cropped the video in an attempt to see her movements a little better.
In my previous career I would only document the facts, but here in this narrative I will make some assumptions about some of the facts that I hear and observe from the video. So this narrative might have my assumptions, thoughts, questions and observations from the video.
While reviewing the video the next day after I had left the camera at 1700 hrs. it shows Hoot very alert and active on the nest. It appears she stands up and is either moving any eggs around, adjusting the nest material or it’s possible she has at least one owlet in the nest.
I last saw Hoot roosting in a spruce tree on 02-03-21 some distance from where I found her nesting on 03-09-21. It has been 36 days from 02-03-21 to when I put out the camera. I certainly don’t know when she started nesting, but it takes on average of 30 days for the owlets to hatch.
While watching the video she is seen flying away from the nest after sunset and probably closer to 1900 hrs based upon the amount of daylight. I don’t know why she flew from the nest, but I saw something in the video that could say she was pushed. Did she leave on her own or was she pushed? I’ll leave it at that for now.
When she left the nest I could see her on the video and I could hear her wings make some noise when they hit some branches. I listened closely to the video and 12 1/2 minutes later I heard a noise that I believe was her landing back on the nest. It was completely dark out, so I couldn’t visually see her. A few seconds later she began doing some territorial calls.
While listening to the sounds on the video she made several calls up until the end of the video at 2100 hrs. I’ve enhanced the calls. Due to the surrounding noise it’s hard to distinguish between her calls or any calls “Give a Hoot” , the male Great Horned Owl, may or may not be calling back.
Besides the territorial calls from Hoot you can hear some trumpeter swans and coyotes.
I wasn’t planning to put together a video after I saw the quality of the video clips, but I found it still very interesting so I thought I would share what I could. Since I’m wanting to know more, I’ll probably put out the camera again.
I’ve included some still images of the Hoot at the beginning of the video that were taken before setting out the video camera (three photos from 03-09-21, 03-10-21 and 03-11-21) and the images at the end of the video were taken on 03-12-21 and 03-13-21.
I briefly checked on her today, Thursday, 03-11-21, before going on to check for some other owls. We had an all day rain including some heavy storms in the late afternoon/early evening hours after I checked on her yesterday. It appears her feather tuffs have dried out and were blowing in the wind. I took a couple shots of her then left the area.
I decided to quickly “sneak” in and check on Hoot after it had been raining all morning. It appears she was expecting me because she had changed her position on the nest 180 degrees since yesterday. Looks like she was having a bad “hair” day after being out all morning in the rain, but she was still looking good. :) I took a couple shots and left.
Today, after many days and walking many hours in the woods I found “Hoot”, the female Great Horned Owl, sitting on a nest.
Today, I saw a potential nesting site and although it was fairly dark up in the tree I thought I saw the outline of a Great Horned Owls head amongst the many branches. I looked through my binoculars and saw her eyes looking directly at me. I immediately knew this was “Hoot”.
It was back on 12-25-20 that we last got to spend some quality time together. On that day I found her male friend, Give a Hoot, perched by her favorite conifer tree. Once he left I located Hoot all snuggled up in the tree. I waited over 2 hours for her to wake up. Once she woke up it didn’t take her long before she began doing over 50 territorial calls. I took lots of video and it wasn’t long before I could hear “Give a Hoot” calling back in the distance, but getting closer.
Then it was 39 days before I found her in another area on 02-02-21. The next day, 02-03-21, I located her again. She was sleeping in a spruce tree camouflaged behind several branches, but I took a couple shots anyways. The way she was roosting in the tree I wasn’t going to get any better pictures of her that day so I left her sleeping.
It took me another 34 days before I found her on the nest today.
On Monday, 03-01-21, I was out looking for the owls. The first owl I found was the male Great Horned Owl, “Give a Hoot” sitting high in a large tree behind several small branches facing the marsh.
I thought I would out smart him today so I backed away slowly, then headed to the “winter crossing” to walk out into the marsh where I had a better opportunity to get some photos. First, I set up my tripod and attached my lens with my camera. Then I put on my backpack, grabbed my trekking poles and swung the camera/tripod over my shoulder while walking through knee deep snow. I should have had my snowshoes on because it was slow going.
Once I got to the spot I thought I needed to go on the opposite side of the marsh from the male GHO I set my tripod down and started glassing the area for the owl. I spent 10 to 15 minutes looking for him. I don’t see him… Eventually, I left everything in the marsh and walked back to the area where I initially saw the Male GHO and he was no longer there. So much for out smarting him today.
After I packed up my gear I continued looking for the Barred Owl. Once I checked most of its known areas I was about 30 yards from leaving the area when I saw the Barred Owl. This was the first time I’ve seen the Barred Owl in this particular area. It was now a little after 6 pm and I’ve been in the woods since 3:30 pm.
Once I got my camera all set up I spent about 15 minutes with the Barred Owl. Once again I was so close to the owl that I needed to take off my 1.4x teleconverter to get the owl in the frame.