Great Horned Owl Bonanza


I don’t know what the word is for a group of Great Horned Owls, but Ann and I certainly ran into a bonanza yesterday.  A friend of ours told us that he had seen a couple at Spring Creek Park recently.  We had seen them on occasion there over the years ourselves.  We drove out to check them out.

The Great Horned Owls are difficult to see at anytime.  People will say that owls won’t appear during the day.  I say hogwash.  They are there, but you have to know what to look for and be patient.  This was about 10:00 AM.  In one area, we heard one hoot.  We stopped the car and got out and started to walk around and look up into the trees.  These owls usually aren’t distracted by human traffic as they usually are high up and confident that they are pretty safe.  They are certain that they can’t be seen.  And they are pretty nearly right.

Anyway, I finally spotted an adult high in a tree.  Then a minute later Ann exclaimed that she could see two owlets, (young owls).  She showed me with great difficulty, then I spotted another kiddo.  I couldn’t believe it.  This was a first.  We had never seen four owls at once before.  I set up my cameras and proceeded to take photos.  In all, I would shoot over 600 images that day.  But the story doesn’t end here.

We got back in the car and drove down another area of the park.  Ann yelled, “Stop the car!!  There are some more owls!”  Sure enough, there was another tree with four more young owls.  A total of eight owls within about 500 yards of each other.  As in the previous tree, they were pretty high up.

For all of my photos I used my tripod-mounted Canon EOS 7D with a 500mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter.   There was some difficulty selecting shooting positions because of the thick foliage and tree branches.  Because of the heighth of the trees, I usually had to set up twenty or so feet away from the base of the tree to get good shooting angles.  Enjoy these shots, and click on any of them to see enlargements.

Great Horned Owlets

Great Horned Owlets

A young Great Horned Owl peeks from a tree branch.

A young Great Horned Owl peeks from a tree branch while  his sibling stands guard in upper right.

Young Great Horned Owl.  Looking the worse for the wear.  Maybe survived a skirmish with a hawk?

Young Great Horned Owl. Looking the worse for the wear. Maybe survived a skirmish with a hawk?

"Do you think he sees us?"

“Do you think he sees us?”

Two young Great Horned Owls

Two young Great Horned Owls

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51 thoughts on “Great Horned Owl Bonanza

  1. Whooooo (heehee) would have thought you would have such a great opportunity! These are super and I know you and Ann were excited. I looked it up and a group of owls is a parliament – maybe because they are so wise? Whooo knows. Thanks for sharing! You did real good. hugs

  2. Awesome, awesome, awesome!! What a treat! Great photos and a great story with great memories for you to capture! Perhaps the one looks a bit torn because he’s fledging and losing his owlett feathers?

    • Thanks so much, Amy. I’m glad you liked the post. I agree that little has been a bit of a struggle with something, or as you say, maybe losing his baby coat. 🙂

  3. Wow, those are incredible photos! If the owls were that well hidden, you have done an amazing job. Just superb! I love their plumage. I sometimes edit text for a birding company, and when they go looking for owls they call it an ‘owl prowl’. Guess that’s what you were doing yesterday!

  4. Excellent photos! I have seen young horned owls twice, both times the parents convinced me that I didn’t want to stick around long enough for photos. In both cases, the owlets were much younger and closer to the ground.

  5. Spectacular shots. I have not seen very many in my lifetime, in fact I doubt if I have seen 8 total over 75 years. I can’t imagine 8 in one day.

  6. Very nice Bob…..I have seen owls in the daytime….actually saw one grab a full size cat in the woods outside my fathers house.

  7. Magical! I think you know of my affinityfor owls. Our barred owls serenaded us on schedule again by the creek tonight. But owlets? Two sets no less? That’s a lotto!! Great day indeed. 🙂

  8. I love that third shot!!! Beautiful! I have only seen an owl once in my life and I didn’t have a fancy camera then. It is amazing you saw this many owls all at once!! I’m jealous! May be hogwash but I always hear and never can spot the owls! Great post 🙂

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