Hoot Hollow Owl Family Diary

In late March, we stumbled across a great horned owl nesting in the giant pine at the center of the (appropriately named) Hoot Hollow picnic area at Coyote Hills. I’ve been going back each weekend since to check on their progress. Click on any picture to see it full size.

Nesting Great Horned Owl

March 24, 2013

First sighting of the nesting mama owl. Not a great photo, but as the best I got from this early attempt.

 

Nesting Great Horned OwlMarch 30, 2013

Mama owl is still on the nest alone and I manage a slightly better picture.

April 6, 2013

Still nesting, no owlets spotted yet, and this round of shooting finally results in a fairly decent photo.

Nesting Great Horned Owl

First Great Horned Owlet SightingApril 13, 2013

First owlet sighting. The photo is weak, but those little white puffs near the owl are two owlets crawling around the nest.

A bit later that same weekend, a raven showed up, apparently with designs on owlets for lunch. He spent several minutes scoping out the nest from various perches as mama owl kept her eyes on him and squawked. Eventually he reconsidered and flew off.

Raven Eyes Great Horned Owl Nest

Great Horned OwletsApril 22, 2013

The owlets are growing fast and getting around the edges of the nest. They aren’t alone–mama owl is just out of view from this angle behind the branch on the right.

April 30, 2013

Got a great family portrait with everyone awake. We decided to call the owlets Snowball and Lint Eastwood. Their crazy growth rate continues and you can see the darker feathers and facial features start to emerge.

Great Horned Owl Family Portrait

Great Horned Owl and OwletMay 5, 2013

This is the first time we see mama owl step out of the nest. You can see one of the owlets in the lower left starting to adventure a bit too.

Shortly after that, another first, we catch mama owl fly away from the nesting tree and land in a nearby tree.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owls Leave The NestMay 11, 2013

The owlets have climbed out of the nest and up into the higher branches of the nesting tree, making it tough to get a good photo. This behavior signals that they’ll be flying soon.

May 18, 2013 through June 8, 2013

Dark days. Everybody has abandoned the nesting tree and we can’t find them in the nearby trees.

Juvenile Great Horned Owl
Great Horned OwlJune 15, 2013

Just when I think they’re gone for good, I spot one of the juveniles in another tree near Hoot Hollow.

And with some further searching, find one of the adults in the adjacent tree.

Great Horned OwlJune, 23, 2013

Found one of the adults and one juvenile in the same pair of trees near Hoot Hollow and got some better pictures.

The juvenile picture below is topping my list of favorite pictures at the moment. He’s looking quite owlish now, just needs his “horns” to fill in.
Juvenile Great Horned Owl

June 29 and later…

Who knows what the future holds, but I read a bit more online about great horned owls and the juveniles are likely to stay in the area into the early winter.

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