This pretty new property of ours continues to reveal surprises and secrets. Over Mothers Day weekend, while considering removing a tree fractured in last November’s big storm, my husband thankfully noticed the tall snag had inhabitants. Nested into a rotten cavity in the tree were two fluffy owlets peering down at him with huge solemn eyes. Visiting family were quietly ushered out to take a look and then the young ones were left in peace. A quick internet search confirmed them to be Great Horned Owls, our area’s largest owl.
Early one morning the next week, I walked out as the sun was coming up, hoping the rays slanting through the forest would better illuminate the east facing nest. I picked my way carefully and quietly through the ferns and nettles.
There are actually two owlets in the nest. The one up front is quite bold, the other is down to your left shyly peeking through a notch. Do you see it? As the sun came up, the golden rays lit the one owlet and the nest beautifully! I snapped a number of photos, during which time the owlet watched me intently, as did the mother who hooted softly from a tree not far away.
Isn’t she (or he) magnificent? What a pleasure to see these babies! I’ve seen owls many times here on Whidbey Island, but never have I seen their young; juveniles, yes, but never fluffy owlets! I have no idea how old these may be, but they are already of good size (about 14″ to 16″ tall) and appear very healthy. Their mother is doing a good job of keeping them fed; we sometimes see her flying silently over our back field as she hunts for mice and frogs.
I have had a number of visits from owls over the years; perhaps the owl is one of my totem animals? I’d like to think so. This I know, it is a joy to have this beautiful family in our woods, so close by. I’ll be keeping tabs on the owlets as unobtrusively as possible.