Great Horned Owls do not build their own nests – they use cavities in trees or take over nests built by other large birds. In the following series, an owl took over a nest built by a Great Blue Heron and raised her own owlets there in the middle of a rookery (collection of nests). Dead trees emerge from a lake created by a beaver dam, and the water keeps the owlets safe from ground predators like raccoons.
On April 21, I saw just one owlet in the nest with mom:
On May 3 it looked older and feistier…
…and a second owlet showed itself:
By May 11, the owlets were getting bigger and bigger…
The herons still went about their own business constructing nests and incubating eggs:
Here you can see one heron nestling raising its head by mom’s feet
Back to the Great Horned Owlets… standing tall on May 17…
…leaping and getting used to their new wings with flight feathers:
On May 24, the nest was empty but I was lucky to spot an adult across the water.
After some muddy hiking, I eventually got closer to the owl, but made sure not to frighten it away because I knew it must be guarding its fledglings nearby.
I quietly scanned the trees and there he was… wow… it was a big thrill to see this adorable owlet had successfully made it out of the nest, across the water and into the safety of the forest.
I was also glad to catch a glimpse of the elusive beavers and their handiwork: