I recently had a wonderful opportunity to photograph three baby Great Horned Owls perched in a nest about 30 minutes from my house. Of all places, the nest is located on the west side of Colorado Springs overlooking a Walgreens parking lot. They seem to have become quite a sensation among Colorado Springs residents over the past few days, causing the area surrounding the nest to be roped off. As the sign board at the location suggests, please stay 100 feet away from the nesting area when viewing the owls. Harmonious coexistence with wildlife is important in developed areas so I encourage everyone visiting the area to be respectful of the space around the owls. For the photographs in today’s post, I was shooting from a safe distance with a long lens from across the street.
More about the baby Great Horned Owls
In the two photos below, look closely and you will see the three beautiful creatures sitting in their nest. They are about two-thirds up the pine tree in the center of the photo. I’ve included a mid zoom shot as well so you can see them sitting in the tree’s shadows. I had an amazing view into the nest but the light conditions were less than ideal for photography. It took a fair amount of waiting for the sun and clouds to move around to catch a decent balance between light and shadow. I think the photo at the top of the post has a nice balance and shows the owls with great detail.
Although the Great Horned Owl can be found all over the United States, this seems like a strange location for a nest considering the auto and people traffic. I must say though, after a few hours of observation, they did not seem to be phased by it. From my research, Great Horned Owls do not make their own nest since they prefer to inhabit existing accommodations.
If you love owls, visit my recent post from Ireland where we met an Eagle Owl named Dingle > Visit Ireland School of Falconry
I am not sure what bird originally built this nest but it was quite substantial. I can only speculate that the fire from last year caused them to consider nesting in this populated area. Look to the hills in the background and you will see the fire-scorched remains of last year’s fire.
I’ve spent about three hours watching and photographing the owls while hoping to see the mother as well. She seems to be somewhat elusive. There is certainly evidence that she is taking care of matters in the photo below. One of the babies can be seen with a touch of gore around its beak from a round of feeding. I also saw some blood on the lower feathers of one. I am pretty sure it was from feeding because I did not notice any sign of injury on any of the owls.
I was lucky to get a full body shot of one of the babies while I was there. Absolutely gorgeous! I was taken by the amount of feathers on the baby’s legs and feet. My guess is that these babies will be in the nest for about one more week before they attempt their first flights. Clearly the baby below is trying to get a little practice in! I do have some prints available of the owls if you would like to have one. Just contact me if you are interested. Again, please remember to be careful when crossing the road and keep a safe distance. The mother can be quite protective if you try to get too close.
Other posts about birds you may like:
- Baby Great Horned Owls in Colorado Springs
- Canon 5D vs 7D for Birds in Flight
- Ireland School of Falconry – Two Weeks in Ireland
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- Bird Photography: Western Meadowlark
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- Bird Photography: Pictures of Eagles
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