NOTE: This observation is a continuation of a previous post. The earlier article can be found here: Great Horned Owl – VCDB Nests Update 8

These pictures come to us from Brent Franklin. Brent has also been keeping an eye on the VCDB Great Horned Owl nest this spring, and has been taken some nice pictures of the growing owlets.

The owl’s nests at the Village Creek Drying Beds are located in the middle of a Great Blue Heron rookery. Dozens of the large wading birds have built their nests in the trees surrounding the swampy area at the entrance to the VCDB.

The Great Horned Owls have certainly taken over a heron nest for their own use. This is typical Great Horned Owls behavior, and it is thought that the owls do not build their own nests.

So there they sit, one of North America mightiest avian predators, in the midst of dozens of helpless heron chicks and vulnerable adults. With this kind of situation, it is natural to wonder if the owls hunt and feed on the herons.

These pictures possibly answer that question. Brent tells me that the owlets in this picture are very likely feeding on a Great Blue Heron chick. Unfortunately, while I do have faith in Brent’s skill as an observer, I have to consider these pictures inconclusive. I just cannot see enough detail to make a positive identification of the prey animal.

Nonetheless, the photographs are still very interesting in their own right, as they show the owlets feeding themselves without assistance from their mother.

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

Great Horned Owlets feeding on on what may be a Great Blue Heron chick.
Great Horned Owlets feeding on on what may be a Great Blue Heron chick.
This owlet appears to have the heron's head in its mouth.  The heron's bill is pointed toward the left.
This owlet appears to have the heron’s head in its mouth. The heron’s bill is pointed toward the left.
One of the owlets drops down into the nest to continue feeding.
One of the owlets drops down into the nest to continue feeding.
This picture reportedly shows the two owlets grooming each other after their meal.
This picture reportedly shows the two owlets grooming each other after their meal.

Observation Details

County Tarrant
City Arlington
Date Mar 20, 2013
Time of Day Morning
Temperature Cool (50-69°F/10-21°C)
Weather Partly Cloudy
Habitat Water-Bog/Marsh/Swamp
Type of Behavior Care of Young
Gender Uncertain
Maturity Juvenile
Observer Brent Franklin
Main Article Great Horned Owl Observation Location