Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Hoot, Nest, Feeding and Owlet 03-30-22 (Photos and video)

On Wednesday, 03-30-22, I went out to spend some time with Hoot, the female, and Give a Hoot,  the male, Great Horned Owls.

When I go out to observe, take photos and video, I will usually spend several hours with them. I’ve been photographing these two owls for over 1 1/2 years and have spent hundreds  of hours with them.

While walking to the area there was some freezing rain/sleet falling. Once I got to the area Give a Hoot (GAH) gave three or four contacts hoots before I got set up on Hoot.

I could see GAH from where I was at so I could see him grooming and stretching. It was about 1730 hrs when I saw him expel a pellet then shortly afterwards he made a couple more contact Hoots.

There was also a turkey about 25 yards from me.

 When GAH started doing more contact hoots, I saw Hoot doing some conversational chitters back to him.

Hoot started to feed the owlets, most likely a rabbit, that was already in the nest. Hoot can be seen ripping apart the prey with her body motions and then feeding the owlets. One of the owlets can be see with its eyes closed with the egg tooth.

Before she was finished feeding she lowered her wing over the owlet and got lower in the nest. When she stopped and looked to my right I looked in the same direction and saw a person coming our direction. Once it was safe for me to move I moved to a position of concealment.  I waited for several minutes before this person came back by the nest before I walked back to the camera.

Hoot continued to watch/listen as this person was nearby. I stayed out with her another half hour. She didn’t resume feeding after this person left the area.

During the half hour afterwards I included a couple short clips of one of the deer that walked to about 10 yards from me. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Hoot on the Nest...Glimpse of one owlet (Great Horned Owl) 03-28-22


On Monday, 03-28-22, I went out to spend some time with Hoot, the female Great Horned Owl, while she was on the nest. When I got out there Give a Hoot, the male, was nearby. 
While I was watching Hoot I could see Give a Hoot watching her on the nest. It wasn’t too long before Give a Hoot flew off most likely to go find a rabbit for Hoot and the owlets. I saw the general area where he flew, although I didn’t see if he landed because of the trees.
I went over to see if I could find him to get some photos, but he must of kept flying past where I expected him to be or I just couldn’t locate him. I went back to observe Hoot.
While watching her there were a total of 10 deer that came by me. There was a group of eight, then later on there were two more. You can hear them walking and running in the video. 
Although, there isn’t a lot of activity going on in the nest, but one of the owlets does peek its head out briefly.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Don't be like this guy....

Michael Furtman, a Minnesota wildlife author and photographer, re-posted a YouTube video in 2017 that Jeff Grotte took of himself baiting a snowy owl with several other people present. Unfortunately, this video appears to be no longer available, but here is a screenshot of what Michael posted about the video.

Click on image to enlarge

Jeff is the same person in my video, Behavior at the Great Horned Owl Nest “Ethical or Not” 04-26-22. Jeff is also the person who started the Owl about Minnesota Facebook group.


After I posted my narrative about my upcoming video, Behavior at the Great Horned Owl Nest “Ethical or Not” 04-26-22.  Jeff said in one of his messages to me,  “I've been photographing owls for 15 years now and have had over a thousand individual owls as subjects. I spend a lot of time in the field and am very practiced at finding owls. Especially Great Horned Owls on nests as they are about the easiest ones to locate.”

Based upon the way that Jeff approached this nest I’m pretty confident its location was pinned. The way he approached the nest wasn’t consistent with someone familiar with the area.

Since I released my video to the public I’ve been contacted by others who told me they had been contacted by Jeff himself asking for locations of other owls and he has given out different owl locations.

On 05-11-22 I was told that Jeff had posted a photo of the male owl in this owl family that I’ve been photographing for over 1 1/2 years on his Owl about Minnesota FB group. This was my second nesting cycle observing, photographing and taking video with these two adults. I don’t know what day the photo was taken. I was provided a screen shot of the male owl that he posted as well as his comment. Although, he only mentioned the park where this owl family is located there was no need to do so. It’s my opinion he was only trying to get back at me for revealing the true person he appears to be while out birding. It appears the photograph is more important thing to him.

I had been a member of Owl about Minnesota until shortly after Jeff appeared in my video. I’ve posted earlier that Jeff told me he removed me from the group that night because he knew I was going to post my video. Although, it’s common knowledge and it’s obvious that several core members in his FB group share the different owl locations between one another. What most of them have in common is that they don’t post the general locations of the owls to the public. One of the exceptions is it’s common to post the general location of the owls that are photographed along the roads in or around the Sax-Zim Bog otherwise its not posted publicly. Giving out a location of a Great Gray Owl or North Hawk Owl along a road is much different than giving out an active Great Horn Owl Nest. If there is too much traffic to the nest it could disrupt the female feeding the owlets.

Don’t be like this guy….

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Behavior at the Great Horned Owl Nest "Ethical or Not" 04-26-22 (Video)


Here is the video, Behavior at the Great Horned Owl Nest "Ethical or Not" 04-26-22.
*** The owlets have fledged, but I still go out and check on Hoot's family. I always keep my eye out for anyone that isn't a "local" to this area. ***

 I’ve have been observing, photographing and taking video of Hoot, the female, and Give a Hoot, the male, Great Horned Owls for over 1 1/2 years. I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours with these two special owls. I’ve gone through one complete nesting cycle last year/season watching Hoot and Give a Hoot raising their two owlets. This year/season I’ve been observing them again raising another two owlets. When I go out to observe them its not uncommon for me to spend 2 to 4 hours at one time in all types of weather…snow, rain, freezing cold that’s well below zero degrees. I’ve gotten to know these two adult owls very well over time.
On Tuesday, 04-26-22, I was out spending time photographing and taking video of Hoot and the owlets. About 1900 hrs I heard some people in the distance coming toward the nest. I turned on my camera that I have set up on a tripod pointed to the owlets on the nest to record video, so I could later see the owlets reactions from the noises.

 I’ve done this before when Hoot was on the nest with the owlets to see their reactions when someone else came walking around the nest. Hoot became very nervous, but she stayed covering the owlets. That video is presently unreleased, but it will be made public late when I start posting again now that the owlets have fledged. I made the decision back in February to stop publicly posting most of my owl photos and videos because of the way this years nest was discovered. I mentioned this person first name in the video.

See my blog (CIIcanoe.com) posts posted on 03-04-22 and 04-30-22 for details.

There were two people walking directly toward the nest, so I concealed myself the best that I could. I turned on the video on my iPhone and started recording them.

Although, there were two of people I later only spoke directly to one of them. When the male got closer to the nest the male made what sounded like a “kissing” sound directed toward the nest. I saw him raise his camera toward the nest as if he was taking a photo. They then continued to walk closer and closer to the nest. The male continued to do several other sounds and an owl call similar to a “modified” territorial hoot directed to the owlets in the nest.

The male walked right up to the nest and started knocking at the base of the tree/snag. I immediately told him that that wasn’t very ethical. I spoke up right away because I wanted him to stop knocking on the snag or anything else that he might consider doing next to get the owlets attention. It was obvious to me that he didn’t have the patience to stand back observe the nest to see if the owlets were in the nest or not. Maybe he was trying to get the owlets to move around in the nest to get a better photo. If you take his word that he was only trying to see if the owlets were in the nest to me that’s not the the way to check. He certainly was going find out the quickest way by forcing the issue by knocking and making different sounds. I knew the owlets would be “concerned” by this behavior based upon my previous observations.

I reviewed the video clip from my camera that was focused on the owlets and both owlets moved when the male knocked at the base of the tree/snag. The owlets appeared “nervous” and started getting lower in the nest when the two people were walking up to the nest.

The person told me his first name. Later when I got home after this incident I checked the Owl about Minnesota FB page and it didn’t even show anything when I searched for it on FB. I had been a member of this group for about the same amount of time I’ve been photographing Hoot and Give a Hoot. I don’t know when I was blocked from this FB group, since I pretty much stopped posting on in February after learning my information was being used to locate the nest. Now that this video has been posted you know why I checked the Owl about Minnesota FB group when I got home that night.

Sharing owl/nest locations is very obvious in the Owl about Minnesota group when several people start posting photos of the same owl in the same location around the same time. This type of behavior is just one reason why I’ve tried to keep this nest site secret. I know that the more people who know about where any owls/owl nests are located they tend tell their friends who tell their friends. It's obvious there is a "select" group of people on the Owl about Minnesota that share locations with their friends and others. The more people who know about the nest and come look for it will surely disturb the nesting site to some extent. This is a very vulnerable  time for the female and the owlets. That behavior might also accidentally tip off someone else in the area about the owls who might not have the owls interest and safety in mind.

For some people its all about the photo and to say I saw an owl in the wild no matter how it’s accomplished.
UPDATE: Today, 05-08-22, I disabled all comments on this YouTube video. Joe Becker, a friend of Jeff in the video) decided to publicly post the location of this nest to obviously get back at me. I responded back to Joe before I disabled the comments. Here is a screenshot with Joe's comment.  
My reply: 
Joe,  thanks for your opinion. So the name of the video is, Behavior at the Great Horned Nest “Ethical or Not” . I think it’s safe for me to say I can mark you down that you think the behavior of Jeff in this video is ethical. I’ve got others who say unethical and it appears some of Jeff’s friends believe this is ethical. A little of both…that’s what happens in life, but not everyone is objective. 

I recognize your name from the Owl about Minnesota FB group and maybe one of the Sax-Zim Bog pages. Wasn’t it you, if I remember correctly, who stopped or maybe limited your postings on line for a while on the OAM site or maybe one of the Sax-rim pages because of some behaviors like Jeff in the video.

From others that have contacted me or have posted elsewhere about this video this wasn’t his first time doing something that they would consider “unethical”, although I don’t have have any direct /first hand knowledge. The only direct knowledge I know is what is shown in the posted video or what Jeff has recently messaged me.

I’m not surprised you know this owls location, even though you live at least a couple hours  (I believe) north of the Twin Cities area.  It’s well known and obvious that a certain group of people do share owl locations from the Owl about Minnesota group. I’ve never seen you around here, but maybe I just missed you or more likely someone probably told you the location.

If you really cared about this owls location and their safety you certainly wouldn’t publicity mention where it’s located. Sounds like you’re just trying to get back at me at the owls expense while at the same defending the actions of “your” friend. You’re the one about a year ago who posted/complained about posting Great Gray Owls locations along the roadway and you were concerned about their safety so you stopped posting the locations. If I remember correctly you were going to limit who you shared the locations with in the future.

It’s also telling me that you’ve have contact with Jeff about this incident because of the use of the word “ scratched” or “scratching” . “Scratched” is the same word that Jeff used to minimize his actions when he contacted me a few days after I wrote my narrative which I posted on-line. If you listen to the video you can hear a sound of a “knock” not the sound of any scratching noise. I even put a sub-title in the video where the knock sound is heard. If there was a scratching sound my microphone on my camera wouldn’t have picked it up at that distance, unless he was using a rake. The owlets reacted to the knock.

Jeff contacted me again a couple days ago. We messaged back and forth. One of the questions I asked him was, I was curious why I was blocked from the Owl about Minnesota site? I’ve been told by others that he started OAM page and I know he’s still a moderator there. Since I never gave him my name he knew who I was to be able to block me from from the group shortly after our encounter.  

Jeff figured I was going to release the video. I’m sure he or any one else wouldn’t be concerned about their actions if this was normal behavior at an owl nest, but I wouldn’t have release the video if this was the expected/normal  behavior at a nesting site. Once he INTENTIONALLY called to the owlets and INTENTIONALLY knocked on the tree was when I spoke up.

Continuing on what Jeff said about banning me from the site, he was concerned that if I posted the video and his friend saw it he (Jeff) was concerned that his friend would blame me and give up the owls location.

Here is Jeff in his own words when I asked him why I was banned… “The reason for that is because I assumed you would probably post that video and my friend who lives there would see it. He can be vengeful and would most likely blow up the location out of spite because he didn't like the way you handled things. Once again, when I was there, the first time was with my fiance who you saw me with and her niece, and the second time when I was checking on the birds and saw you. Other than that I have not been to that nest. My fiance and her niece could care less about the owls or sharing the location of them. I'm not sure however, if your video and commentary on it wouldn't be enough to piss off my friend into sharing the location just because of your perceived narrative. I hope that's not the case.”

Looks to me that Jeff indirectly told me he had some concerns about this behavior.

I have been told by some other people since I posted this video that if you complain about some of the types of behavior from certain members in the Owl about Minnesota group they will seek vengeance. Looks like you’re another example by revealing this owls location. I might have just wrote down and  exposed some “unwritten” but probable behaviors that takes place more often than not with some members of the OAM group at owl sites.

Jeff in his comments to me on the reason why he banned me was not what he did, but he tried to re-direct the blame to ME if his friend found out about the video.  Jeff was so concerned that his friend would “blow up” the owls location, but he hoped that it wouldn’t happen. His friend can be very vengeful.

Here is my response to Jeff…”Ok thanks … but I don’t like that fact that you did something that’s not ethical and you say your “friend” may be pissed off at Me and possibly tip off the owls location. If that’s the case you should join me in calling this person out. I just want you to be aware that what you did is a Federal crime not a state statute when you intentionally disturbed a wildlife/nest. 36CFR. I’m not implying anything and I’m not going to pursue it. Just letting you be aware. Well, if we meet again hopefully it will be under better circumstances.”

Being vengeful and the revealing of certain owl/nest locations of those that aren’t in the inner circle of friends  in “this group” seem to be the norm from what I see and what others have told me about their experiences with certain members of the group.

We know there’s a difference between INTENTIONALLY disturbing a nest/owl and from normal and accidental sounds around the nest/owls.

Jeff’s behavior is covered under this Federal Regulation for Wildlife Protection

36CFR 2.2 (a) (2)  The feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentional disturbing of wildlife nesting, breeding or other activities.

I don’t have any thing more to say to you about this matter, because it’s obvious you’re more of a friend of Jeff’s than you are the the owl’s.

Oh, Joe, I still have you marked down as this behavior as being ethical….if I’m wrong I
l’ll change it.