Saturday, April 16, 2016
Farm Bulletin: First Sighting of the Owlets
Each spring finds contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm observing the pair of great horned owls that make their nest in a snag out behind the farmhouse. The eggs the female laid have now hatched and the young owlets are making their debuts.
Here are some shots of the eldest great horned owlet. The first shot (top photo) caught a starling leaving her brood [the starling's head is poking out of a cavity at the bottom center of the photo]. The other owlet is still too small to sit up properly. These owls start incubating their eggs as soon as they are laid, so there will be a noticeable lag in maturity between the first laid and the second. As far as I can tell, there are two chicks this year, which is normal.
However, her young are "precocial." Within hours of hatching, the downy young will leap from the nest and follow their parents to the water. Although ducks live on the water, the nests can be some distance away. At the farm, we have encountered mallard and black duck nests a quarter mile from the nearest water. Although these birds avoid the bald eagles, osprey and harriers that hunt the marshland, coyotes, weasels and skunks are on the prowl for those upland nests.