Sunday, March 14, 2021

Great Horned Owl...on the nest (Minnesota)

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.

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