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Great Horned Owl III

What are they up to now?

This Great Horned Owlet - about 2-1/2 months old and already as big as its parents - is quite well feathered, although its underparts remain downy. Its wing and tail feathers are developing nicely, and it has begun to make short flights. By mid-May, the owlet still relies almost entirely on its parents for food, and will stay with the family for months to come.

Support for BirdNote comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Curious about birdwatching? Find the tools to get started in "Joy of BirdWatching," an online course from the Cornell Lab Bird Academy.

Full Transcript

Great Horned Owl Family, Part III

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote!

[Great Horned Owl pair hooting]

High in a tall cottonwood tree, a pair of Great Horned Owls is tending two nestlings. The young owlets emerged from their eggs in early spring. When the young birds finally put on a second set of down feathers, the parents could leave them alone while they hunted.

By mid-April, the nestlings were already showing their namesake ear-tufts. About that time, they began to leave their big stick nest to climb along the tree’s branches. What a noisy pair, waiting impatiently for their parents to deliver food! [Immature owl begging cries]

Now in May, the Great Horned Owlets are as big as the adults. Their wing and tail feathers have developed nicely, so the owlets have begun making short flights. Yet they still rely almost entirely on their parents for food. [Immature owl begging cries]

On a recent evening, the adults presented the owlets with a young striped skunk, at two pounds, a sizeable – if somewhat odiferous – meal. These owls are the only birds that regularly dine on these smelly creatures. [Great Horned Owl pair hooting]

Sounds for BirdNote come from the Macaulay Lab of Ornithology. I’m Mary McCann. [Great Horned Owl pair hooting + immatures screeching]

Support for BirdNote comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, presenting its new “Bird Photography” online course, featuring Melissa Groo. Learn more at

Great Horned Owl sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Adult duet recorded by W.R. Fish. Owlets recorded by D.T. Spaulding.
Immature Great Horned Owls screeching recorded by C.Peterson.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to   May 2017/2020   Narrator: Mary McCann.



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