Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Snowbird Again

We arrived in Florida again on the 10th. Of course, in my head I had told myself that, after 5 years, nothing would be new. We have seen all of the birds and animals we are going to see, especially after the family of Sandhill Cranes last year.

"OH," said our neighbor, "We have an owl. Up there in the tree. Hear it?"

Well, I certainly could hear the soft "Hoo Hoo".

Tonight I was looking across the bay at a large bird in a tree branch that sticks up way above the rest of the trees. Through binoculars I could clearly see the "horns" of feathers that screams, Great-Horned Owl.

I watched for a moment then a noise sent the owl to the cell-phone tower. It is half a mile away but I dragged out the camera and tripod and tried, in the twilight, to get a photo. I have the rest of the 4 months to try and get better photos but, for what they are worth, here is the best shot.

Cool Facts

  • The Great Horned Owl is the only animal that regularly eats skunks.
  • The Great Horned Owl will take large prey, even other raptorial birds. It regularly kills and eats other owls, and is an important predator on nestling Ospreys. The reintroduction of Peregrine Falcons has been hampered in some areas by owls killing both adult and nestling falcons.
  • The Great Horned Owl is a regular victim of harassment from flocks of American Crows. Crows congregate from long distances to mob owls, and may continue yelling at them for hours. The enmity of the crows is well earned, however, as the owl is probably the most important predator on adult crows and nestlings.
  • Even though the female Great Horned Owl is larger than her mate, the male has a deeper voice. Pairs often call together, with audible differences in pitch.

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Laura Lou
Michigan/Florida, United States
I am a retired Middle School Science teacher from Michigan spending 4 months each winter in Florida and learning about a whole new world.
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