Owls at My House

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

A pair of great horned owls nest near my home between West Valley and Farm to Market roads. Each year, we see 1-3 juveniles (and at least one adult) in the ponderosa pines in our yard. From there they can watch for voles and gophers in the agricultural fields next to our property. We find lots of owl pellets and more than a few feathers–especially the downy ones that are dropped as the juveniles mature.

Here are a few images. (Photos and videos by Skip Via)

Adult keeping tabs on the photographer
Adult and juvenile
Adult and juvenile
Adult and juvenile
Owls fix their gaze on you by turning their heads because they can’t move their eyeballs as humans and most other animals can. In fact, they don’t have eyeballs at all. Instead, their eyes are shaped like tubes, held in place by bones called sclerotic rings. Owls can turn their necks about 270° in either direction, and 90° up-and-down, without moving their shoulders. That’s how they focus their vision.
A pair of juveniles deciding whether or not cars are good places to perch.
Watching the fields
Strutting along

Here is a video of three juveniles sheltering in a rainstorm, which gets quite heavy toward the end.

And another video that shows the downy feathers of a newly fledged juvenile.

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