I've Always Been a Huge Fan of Owls

by Dan Weisz

and apparently these owls are huge fans of huge fans!  

In the Catalina Foothills, we have several pairs of Great Horned Owls.  Many of you have mentioned hearing or seeing them through the year.  Any pairs that bred will now have young to take care of, so although the owls may be quiet now, there are more of them around.

Peeking through a thick bougainvillea bush, you can see all three juvenile Great Horned Owls on a ceiling fan in this very dark, shaded, and presumably cool outdoor patio.  I was contacted by Gary W. in a nearby neighborhood about some owls that were seen at his neighbor’s house.  He invited me over to see and photograph them and the look above was my first sight!  

With his back to us, one owl sits on the fan between the light fixture and the spiral staircase.  A hint of its sibling is on the far left of the fan.

One of the owls spooked and flew off.  When it did so, its push and wings turned the fan blades as it took off.  The remaining owls came to rest shortly after spinning around.  You can tell this is not an adult by the white feathers on his breast.  As an adult it would have the dense barring across all of its belly.  As an adult he would also have a white patch on his throat and you would see the feathered tufts that give the owl its name.  They are just beginning to come in.

Shooting photographs while facing the sun and peering into a dark “cave” makes the lighting very tricky.

On another morning, the three owls were in a velvet mesquite tree near the porch.

One owl flew into the thick desert greenery of the nearby wash.

Another owl flew from the mesquite tree to the roof.  In the bright sunlight, you can see the soft youthful feathers of the owl’s head.  The dark lines that mark its facial disc are just coming in.

Here he stepped into the open a bit more.

Great Horned Owls will hunt and sit on the ground.  At this age, the parents are still feeding the young.  That may continue for several months after the owls fledge.  We were never able to see or hear any adult owls, but I am certain they are nearby and watching their children closely.

More owl photos to comeā€¦..  Stay tuned!

Web by Douglas Everett at Hummingbird Market