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Great horned owls really give a hoot

Great horned owl checking out the photographer. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1ghorned dave harper oakley

Who gives a HOOT?

Great horned owls, that’s WHOO!

Another great photo of wild creatures of the Urban Wilderness (your backyard) by Dave Harper, Oakley, California

You can see more of Dave’s great photographs in HIS blog at:     /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Under: great horned owl | 1 Comment »

Great horned owls: Do they give a hoot?

Great horned owl giving a hoot from a treetop soap box. Photo by Marina Chainey, Richmond, CA
1great horned owl marina chainey, richmond

The owls have begun their Fall dawn hooting meetings in our yard.  This one and its friend were greeting each other just “late” enough to give sufficient light for a few pictures (6:35 a.m.) on September 7.  This morning I watched them from 5:45 until 6:15 a.m. Are these greetings signaling the beginning of courting season, or are they just preamble?

Enjoying nature’s alarm clock,
Marina Chainey, Richmond, California

In the last week or so, I’ve heard a few great horned owl hoots echoing across the canyon behind my house in Benicia, but not a lot.  It’s pretty early for great horned owls to start courting. That usually begins in October or November.

Male great horned owls go on occasional hooting binges throughout the year, so it’s sometimes hard to tell when the actual courting begins. My rule of thumb on this, when the males really start hooting up a storm, all night long, followed by lots of females hooting back at them, then it’s probably courting time. I don’t hear that happening yet. Anybody else out there in the San Francisco Bay Area hearing anything? /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
Under: great horned owl | 4 Comments »

Great horned owl nest in tree, with chick and adult owl

Great horned owl nest, chick and adult. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA.
1ghowlnest dave harper oakley

I get a lot of requests from readers, asking what great horned owl nests look like. These photos by Dave Harper of Oakley, California, are a perfect example. It’s usually a large stick nest, high in a tree. Above you can see an approximately 3-month-old owl chick on the left sitting on the nest, staring at the camera. One of the adult great horned owls is perched on a branch on the right. Below is the same photo showing the owls and nest from a further distance away so you can get a better idea of how high up in the tree it is.

Hope this answers your questions. Thanks for the great photo, Dave! /Gary

Great horned owl nest and owls. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1ghowlnest dave harper oakley

Posted on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
Under: great horned owl, nesting, Owls | 4 Comments »

Don’t use rodent poisons: They can also kill other animals

Rodent poison can also kill bobcats. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
bobcat brian murphy wc

Many wild creatures living in the urban interface are impacted by eating poisoned rodents. That includes coyotes, bobcats, gray foxes, great horned owls, barn owls, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, and raccoons, just to name a few.

I looked at some d-con for mice off the shelf at Rite-Aid.  Near the bottom of the label under Environmental Hazards: “Predatory and scavenging mammals and birds might be poisoned if they feed upon animals that have eaten the bait.”

But who reads labels these days.

The Victor Fast-Kill rodent poison just says “it may take 2 or more days from the time of bait consumption for these rodents to die.” They say you can use the stuff indoors or outdoors! The box says nothing about secondary poisoning.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
Under: Bobcats, Gray foxes, great horned owl, Rat poison, Red-tailed hawk | 1 Comment »

Great horned owl chicks: Hoo’s who?

Great horned owl chicks by David Thompson, Orinda, CA
david thompson orinda 3 horned

My wife and I woke up this morning to see these three youngsters outside our bedroom window. How old do you think they are?
David L. Thompson, Orinda

Beautiful great horned owl chicks. You can still see the down on them. They look to be about 4 weeks old. You have a GREAT yard! /Gary

Posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010
Under: great horned owl | 1 Comment »

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

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?
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Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
Under: great horned owl | No Comments »

Great horned owl gives a hoot

I woke up last night when it started to rain. A great horned owl was also hooting in my back yard. December is courting time for great horned owls. If this guy gets lucky, he and a new mate will be incubating eggs before Christmas. Are owls hooting up a storm in your yard? /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2007
Under: great horned owl | 3 Comments »

Falling asleep to the sound of “hoo hoohoo hoo hoo”

Right after Lois and I went to bed last night a great horned owl that was perched in the top of the redwood tree just outside our bedroom window started to hoot. It was so loud it felt like it was sitting right next to me on my pillow.

I knew it was a male owl because of the frequency and combination of his hoots. It was a low pitched, evenly paced "hoo hoo hoo."

After about five minutes of hooting around, a female suddenly answered him from across the canyon with some higher pitched hooting: "hoo hoohoo hoo hoo."

It’s kind of neat lying in the darkness in bed and listening to all this going on in my yard. We were almost perched right up there in the top of the tree with that great horned owl, listening to him trying to convince the lady owl from across the canyon to fly over so they can go perch outside someone’s front window and snuggle up and watch television together.

Great horned owls do their courting in the winter months, usually November and December. They build their nests sometime in December, lay eggs and compete with the tiny hummingbirds to see who hatches the earliest babies of the year. Curious that one of the largest of our birds of prey and the smallest of the nectar drinkers would both nest and raise their chicks while the wintery winds are ruffling their feathers and the freezing rains are still soaking the grass.

As Mother Nature would say, size has nothing to do with toughness in the wild world.

"hoo hoo hoo."

"hoo hoohoo hoo hoo."

That’s a nice sound to fall asleep to.

Posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2005
Under: Animals, breeding, great horned owl, nesting, wild birds, Wildlife | 2 Comments »