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Young great horned owl “threatens” homeowner to “stay back!”

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 at 7:30 am in great horned owl.

Young great horned owl says “stay back!” Photo by Merry Nail, Oakley, CA.
great horned chik1

This magnificent creature appeared on our patio Sunday afternoon.

We live near the Big Break Marina in Oakley. It was still daylight. I wondered if you could tell me why he might have been out during the day? I thought he could be a young one but barn owls don’t usually “fall out of a nest” do they?

Adult great horned owl

Every time I got near he spread his wings and clacked his beak. Anyway, it was a awesome sight! I went to check on him after sundown and he had flown away.
Merry, Oakley

Dear Merry:
It’s actually a great horned owl, a young one. You can see a lot of the young bird’s down feathers in your neat photo. I suspect it had just left the nest for the first time and was learning how to fly.

You frightened it when you got too close and it spread its wings and fluffed out its feathers to appear larger than it really is and clicked its upper and lower beaks together to make a threatening noise and warn you to stay back. Very effective, eh?

Good you got to see it. Great horned owls are beautiful! He/she is probably off hunting gophers. /Gary

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