Sunday, March 16, 2014

Owlets and Bluebirds at Berry Springs

On reports of Great Horned Owl chicks, we went to visit Berry Springs park, north east of Georgetown. Conditions today were cool, cloudy and very windy.

As we walked around the park, we first ran into several pairs of Eastern Bluebirds flitting from one bush to the next, dropping down into the grass between bushes. Interestingly, the last time we hiked in strong winds was at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center ... where we saw Western Bluebirds!  Danielle was able to get closer to the birds and got the clearer of the two shots below, all are of males.

While I was still trying to get close, Danielle found the owl nest. I have circled its location in yellow on the Goggle satellite image below:

The nest is in a high fork of the tree and, I understand, was built by Red-Tail Hawks.

Two owlets were hunkered down in the nest and only peeked their heads up occasionally. No parents showed up all afternoon - clearly a different feeding schedule than the Bald Eagles.

With their downy feathers and bare eye patches, they reminded me of Ewoks in the movie Star Wars. We will have to return periodically to see if we can catch them with the parents present.

Update 2014-03-17 - Went back this evening since the light was better. Indeed, we had some golden light before sunset. I was also hoping to see an adult in the nest but that was not to be. With less wind, the owlets were poking up further.

I never saw the parent owls in the nest even though I waited until it was nearly dark. In the fading light, I briefly saw one of the adult owls perched across the creek on a tree stump, silhouetted in the evening sky.

Update 2014-03-22 - Back to the park this weekend. Danielle got this shot with the owlet opening its beak a bit. Still no wing flapping.

All images taken with Canon SX-50 HS, birds at full zoom.

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