Yesterday, we decided to look for the Great Horned Owl that was reportedly nesting here at Fontainebleau State Park. Early in the morning, I had gone down to the pier and seen Brown Pelicans, Killdeer, Tree Sparrows, and an unidentified hawk — and heard an owl somewhere.
When I saw the camp hosts sitting on their four-wheelers talking, I asked them whether they knew where the owl was. The guy from Minnesota said, “You mean, my owl?” And before I knew it, we were following in the truck to the spot, not too far away, where we got out and walked to a viewing spot. “She’s right up there in the flat spot, see her?” he asked. Here’s what we saw — it wasn’t easy at first, and then you couldn’t miss her.
The host explained that the owls have used this site in three out of the last four years (last year was apparently too wet and they went elsewhere.) He thinks that one of her eggs has hatched since she has moved up slightly in the nest. She was dozing when we saw her and once I got my scope out, both Mary and I, and some visiting Canadians, got great looks. It was beautiful to see the tufts on her head waving gently in the breeze as she slept and every so often, she’d pop open an eye and check on her human spectators. Last night, after dark with a full moon, we went back down and sitting in the dark truck nearby, could hear her sort of purr hooting sounds while a bit further off, her mate gave forth with a full Great Horned Owl series of hoots. Quite a treat, and a life bird for me.
Here’s closeup of her — the “ears” are hard to miss once you spot them.
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