Posted by: atowhee | May 28, 2015

GREAT GRAY SAGA OF A SURROGATE FATHER

Update from Andy Huber: “Just to keep you updated…last night the mother led the fledglings back to the original nest site.  I fed her there this evening.  She has now taken them on a quarter-mile (diameter) circle in 16 days.  Also this evening, a friend and I saw two great horned owls in the area.  One was where the GGO male had been taken, and the other was in the area where the mother and chicks had just left. 

It is very interesting to observe mom, when she thinks that danger is near.  If I am feeding her, she will look intently to the sky, and stop taking food.  Often, with one hoot, she tells all the fledglings to be quiet…and they do so.
The rodents that I catch for her:  about 75% deer mice, and 25% montane voles.  I have depleted my supply in some areas, but friends are now also catching rodents for the family.  I never knew so many people loved owls…it’s been a wonderful experience.”
Huber gos on to report that a pair of Great Horned Owls are still in the vicinity and the female GGO has now taken her owlets back to the original nest site, away from the GHOs.

Rancher, conservationists and owl-lovers, Andy Huber and his wife are co-parenting a family of Great Gray Owls.  The Hubers own a ranch near Le La Grande in northeastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains.  This spring a couple of GGOs began raising a family.  One day Andy saw a Great Horned carrying off the body of the male GGO.  The following tragic morning the Hubers awoke to see Great Gray Owl feathers scattered on the ground.  That left a widowed GGO with a nestful to raise.  The Hubers pitched in.  Friends loaned them live traps with which to catch small mammals.  The adult female quickly learned to grab the offered prey.  Many weeks of maturing are ahead of the fledglings but the Hubers persist.  Here is a selection of photos of the Huber owls:1.  Mother warm in sunshine 1936 IMG_5808 2.  Mother spread owl 2173 IMG_5622 3.   Mother on ground 2333 IMG_5588 4.  GGO Mother and mouse 1683 IMG_5463 5.  GGO Mother mouse shadow2455  IMG_5414 6.  Here comes mom with food 2294  IMG_5737 7.  Who's next 2216 IMG_5786 8.  Hold on, I almost fell off the limb 2430 IMG_5739 9.  I'll power nap while you eat it 2246 IMG_5744 10. You feed her, I'll fly 2259 IMG_5781 11.  I got it mom 2237 IMG_5685 12.  Mother feeding child 2361 IMG_5684 13.  I'm off to get another 2397 IMG_5688 14.  This is my family now 2342 IMG_5790 15. GGO Mother tree lichen 2195 IMG_5447Yes, there are four owlets in this family.  Each could eat up to four small rodents daily, and mom needs to eat, too.  The most plentiful prey in the vicinity right now is kangaroo mice.  It will be at least two more months before these young will be able to do any effective hunting of their own…probably.

The Great Gray Owl book I co-authored is now available for sale.  Click here for details. The book will be on sale at the Mountain Bird Festival here in Ashland this weekend.  Next week my co-author and the book’s photographer, Peter Thiemann, will be selling copies at the OBA meeting in Sutherlin.ggo cover

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Responses

  1. The Hubers are special people to do such a wonderful thing for the owls. Thank you for the beautiful pictures.

  2. Great (Gray) story and pictures.

  3. […] shots, including some of adult female feeding montane vole to one of the fledglings: If you are new to this saga, click here for my initial blog on this adventure back in May. Then for the first […]


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