Feb 082013
 

Across a swamp, high in a tree, and nestled in the middle of a Great Blue Heron rookery is a nest that is a little larger than the rest. At first glance the nest appears to be empty, but its denizen is just hunkered down low behind the rim, busily incubating a clutch of eggs. It takes a close cropped photograph—and maybe a little imagination—to finally recognize the occupant as a Great Horned Owl.

Great Horned Owls are some of the earliest breeding birds in North America, and there will be baby owls in this nest soon. Their mating activities begin early in December and by this in February they are busy incubating eggs. As nocturnal hunters, Great Horned Owl may risk the cold of winter in order to take advantage of the longer nights.

Great Horned Owls are also know to take over the nest of other large birds—Hawks sometimes, or as in this case, a Great Blue Heron nest. Of course, the owls have modified this nest significantly to better suit their needs.

NOTE: This observation is continued here: Great Horned Owl – Two Nests in the VCDB

The owl's nest (left) being carefully watched by a Great Blue Heron (right).

The owl’s nest (left) being carefully watched by a Great Blue Heron (right).

The owl in this picture (indicated by the arrow) is facing to the right so that the profile of its beak can be seen.

The owl in this picture (indicated by the arrow) is facing to the right so that the profile of its beak can be seen.

Observation Details

County Tarrant
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Bicycling
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City Arlington
Date Feb 3, 2013
Time of Day Midmorning
Temperature Cool (50-69°F/10-21°C)
Weather Clear
Habitat Water-Bog/Marsh/Swamp
Type of Behavior Nesting
Gender Female
Maturity Adult
Observer Chris Jackson
Main Article Great Horned Owl Observation Location

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