This great horned owl family has nested in the same location in the western portion of the Wetland Trail at Chatfield Farms for at least the last three seasons, and each year we watch as they raise their young. But this past winter, their nest was destroyed by wind and we were concerned they would move on to new territory. Great horned owls are not nest builders. They occupy the nests that have been abandoned by other large bird species, like hawks. Fortunately, we also have many hawks at Chatfield Farms, so this spring we kept a close eye on all the large nests in the wetlands, and to our delight, mama owl was back in a new nest not far from their old one.
This year they raised two owlets, which is pretty typical (in 2014 they had three!). About mid-March, we can usually see mama owl’s head peeking above the nest. Then, as we move into April, we find her sitting higher in the nest, which is typically an indication that eggs have hatched. After another week or two, the owlets are large enough to see their fuzzy little heads. They grow fast, and by mid-May they develop larger feathers and venture out of the nest. Once that happens, the young stick around and are supported by their folks for a little while, but will eventually move on to their own territory.
I just checked on them this morning and everyone has left the nest. They will be hard to spot now as the trees are leafing out and the owls are naturally adapted to blend in with the bark and branches.