Mama Great Horned Owl – and Other Stuff, 04-10-18

I just HAD to go see how mama Great Horned Owl was doing at the American River Bend Park, so I got up around 6:30 am and headed over there, hoping to beat the incoming rain. It was about 59º and totally overcast, but no drizzles while I was out.

When I got to the park, I was happy to see mama up in her nest with her three, now very large, owlets. The babies are all just about the same size as mom right now, but they’re still in their baby fluff and look to soft and cute. With the three of them in there, there’s hardly enough room for mom, too, but somehow they all fit. I took photos and video snippets of them, and then went to see what else was in the vicinity.

CLICK HERE to see the album of photos and video snippets.

Lots of House Wrens singing from every direction, Western Bluebirds and Audubon’s Warbler. Y’know, I’d never really noticed the warblers before this year, but they seem to be all over the place right now. I also saw a young Cooper’s Hawk be harassed by Scrub Jays. When I first saw the hawk it was above my head in a tree and all I could see was its tail feathers. I could hear the Jays screeching at it, and they beat it down through the branches until the hawk was free enough to fly off. I saw it land on a curved branch several yards away… and it was still getting harassed. Poor thing!

Then I saw a young Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting in a tree near where the Cooper’s Hawk was. The Red-Shoulder must have seemed more “assertive” than the Coop, because the smaller birds left it alone and didn’t go anywhere near it. It also let me get pretty close to its resting spot – It looked right at me. – without flying off, so it must have been very self-assured.

I saw stinging nettles, miner’s lettuce, Stork’s Bill, and pipevine plants (many of them now covered with small clusters of Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly eggs), buckeye chestnut trees, wild grape vines, and black walnut trees (which are just starting to get their catkins). I also found one Elder Moth caterpillar folded up in the leaf of a blue elderberry bush.

As I walked around, I kept going back to where I could see the owls’ nest so I could get more photos of them as they moved around and shifted positions in the nest…

I was out there for about 3 hours and then headed home.

Here is a video of mama owl and her babies: https://youtu.be/sof6Mf7UKMQ

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Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.