By Dan Weisz
Over the past few days, both of the Great Horned Owlets in the Foothills Clusters have finally left the nest. They remain close to the mother and will do so for quite a while as they learn to fly and learn to hunt. Both parents will continue to feed the baby owls. For now, they will remain nearby until their flying becomes strong and efficient. Here are some photos of how these recent changes came to be.
The evening before the first owlet fledged and left the nest, she was perched above the mother owl for the first time. This was a change in perching order. In this shot, the two owls are alert to a drone that someone was flying in the distance. Thankfully, the drone did not approach the nest.
The next morning, the larger owlet was out of the nest tree and was found in a palm tree across the street. Here, it seems to be wearing a crown or robe of date flowers. There were tarantula wasps flying all around it feasting on the flowers but the owl didn’t seem to care.
From another angle, all of the owlet was visible.
Mom was perched in the same palm but on the other side where she kept close watch on the second baby owl in the pine tree across the street. This is the palm tree that the male owl has been roosting in daily, keeping watch on his family.
Three mornings later, the second owl made its maiden voyage. Here it is perched in an orange tree in the yard next to the palm tree that its mother and sibling were in.
And it definitely watched its mother in the neighbor’s yard. It seemed to be wishing that it could somehow get over and up to the palm tree next door.
A few moments later it hopped and flapped to the very top of the orange tree, facing away from its mother.
I’m not sure what is happening here, but the leaves probably just ended up near the owl’s beak and the owl did what owls will do: eat whatever is near its beak. Perhaps that’s a morning breath mint!
Even though the owlet has moved off of its nest tree, its wings are not yet fully developed. As it flaps its wings, you can see that its feathers are not fully formed so sustained flight is not possible. The owls are growing quickly though so one day soon……..