Friday, January 22, 2010

Great Amorous Owls

The image from the Journal Sentinel link above is Dakota, the Great Horned Owl ambassador on our education team. He wasn’t too happy about this photo session, but for the most part he’s been pretty agreeable to things lately. It’s mating season for his kind right now and because he seeks the companionship of humans rather than other owls, he does a lot of showing off this time of year, especially around females.

From as early as December and as late as March you will likely hear far more “hooting” than at other times of the year as current and potential mates call to one another. The reason they begin so early is smart as it means that their young will be old enough to begin hunting on their own during the prime summer season when prey is much easier to obtain.

This unfortunately also means surviving potentially harsh conditions during a very sensitive time in the lives of their young chicks. These youngsters face a lot of challenges in their first few weeks, not only are potentially dangerous winds waiting to blow the downy creatures to the ground, the nests they are raised in are almost always built by someone other than their parents and are often in poor shape as well.

Great Horned owls are definitely one of, if not the earliest wild neighbor in our neck of the woods to begin their “baby” season however, unlike this blog post, there has been rumors of it being an even earlier than usual season for them as well as several other species (rather than late that is; sorry for the delay). Reports abound regarding unbridled squirrel behavior (gray squirrels also breed very early as most will raise two litters each summer season) and some say that there may be Great Horned owls already sitting on eggs!

Check out the We-Energies Peregrine watch cam and you can see one mother whose behavior seems to suggest that she’s been sitting on an egg for some time.

For now we’ll keep our fingers crossed that this isn’t the case because these youngsters already face many challenges being born as early as they are. Most years the center will begin seeing owlets (baby owls), as early as the first or second week of March.

Check back here in a couple of weeks as I plan to try to give you a glimpse of what baby owl season is all about here at the Wildlife In Need Center.

1 comment:

  1. Cool blog, I just found it today. I have a blog related to k-12 education in Wisconsin. I put a link to Waldo in today's post.