As we close out winter and heading into spring and the theme of rebirth, we begin to focus on new growth: signs of the rebirth of the land. This time of year brings with it, not only plants and trees beginning to sprout but wildlife and their babies. Its always an exciting time of year for a wildlife photographer to be able to witness such miracles before our eyes. So as we celebrate Mom’s across the globe, we now turn to celebrate the birth of Owlets of Great Horned Owl pair, truly majestic animals.
This is the first time, I have be able to witness Great Horned Owls and the owlets from a safe range as not to disturb them or upset them. These times are special and parents are protective of their young ones. Owls begin mating in January or February and they do mate for life. They will usually take over a nest or find a space in a tree so they rarely return to the same place year after year. The nests are not very stable, which can always lead to problems. The eggs incubate about 30 to 37 days.
Young owlets are fed by both parents and as they grow, they become what is referred to as ‘branchings.” They begin to walk along the tree branches as they gain strength and grow. This year, Mom had three owlets. Early on in their lives, a heavy wind and rain storm came through, knocking two of the owlets from the nest. Wildlife Rescue was called and sadly I was informed later, one owlet did not survive the fall. The other was placed in a manmade nest and the parents continued to cared for it.
The owlet in the manmade nest was happy to be safe and fed but Mom had a different idea. She knows, for him to survive, he must begin climbing the tree and walking the branches. It is part of their development and necessary to life. Well, the owlet got up the courage to stand on the edge of the nest but instead of climbing tried to fly!! Oh no, on the ground the owlet found himself again! Its a big world for a growing owlet!!
The owlet decided to go on a walk deeper into the woods and Mom was watching him from above to make sure he was safe. The other owlet was going about his life as a “branching” and Mom had her wings full, with two owlets in two different places! She needed to feed both owlets and herself daily plus watch the owlet strolling in the woods. Motherhood is no easy task!
One bright sunny day, someone noticed the ‘branching” flew from one tree to the next. We knew then, soon he would fly to join his mother, who was still overhead looking at his brother strolling in the woods. And the next day the “Branching” was gone. We knew he flew away. Proud Mom one owlet up one to go. HIs brother, also gained strength on his walks, learn the could also fly. And so with Mom perched above, she allows her babies to explore life as she watches over them with pride. She will continue to help feed them for several months before they will go out into the world and live their own lives. We raise them up to set them free, the circle of life.
Happy Mothers Day