Posted by: atowhee | July 29, 2015

THE MOM, THE “DAD” AND THE OWLETS

Here’s the latest update from Andy Huber on his work helping a widowed female Great Gray Owl raise her four youngsters in northeastern Oregon.  Andy live-trapped small rodents and then released near the owls to help with the prodigious effort of feeding many small prey to a hungry quartet of young.  Highly unlikely the lone female could have managed by herself.  Herewith Andy’s latest report, and then some more of his great photos [mouse lovers advised to avert your eyes]:
“The owls are all doing well.  Usually only the two youngest ones come for food now.  They will pick it off the ground, if I drop it near them.  But I’m still leaving some rodents for them at night, on the platform.  The mother and older owlets are probably getting some of that food too.
They are still enjoying the water, as you’ll see by the photos.
An interesting thing happened on July 14.  The mother and some of the youngsters were taking food in the evening (…which they seldom do anymore).  When they were mostly done eating, the mother flew to a nearby branch and gave several “normal” great gray owl hoots.  It was the same series of hoots that she had done very often when the chicks were still on the nest, and the male was still alive.  She was obviously calling to another GGO.  I had not heard her call like that since the male had been killed.  The only time she would hoot, was when there was danger overhead, and she was instructing the kids to be quiet.  Usually, she would only hoot once, and they would all be very still.  So it was very surprising to me that she was hooting that evening.
Then she flew off, and was gone for exactly one week.  Before that, I had seen her close by, guarding the young ones, practically every day.  As suddenly as she left, she came back and has been here each day since.  I am wondering if she had heard a potential mate, that might have been wandering through the area.??
 
Thanks for nudging me to write a book about the whole process.  Leigh Calvez has been here again several times, and she will include much of it in her book on owls.  It certainly has been fun to be so close to them, for so long.  I truly feel like I am a part of their family.
 
I’ve attached more photos.  Again, I have taken them all, so use them however you want.  I do appreciate you for spreading the information.”
12. GGO mother front owlet back 7 23 15 3007 IMG_0535 (924x1280)Mother in front with prey, hungry fledgling behind.20. GGO owlet looking to sky 7 23 15 2360 IMG_0489 (994x1280) Owlet looking up, they always follow flight of other large birds overhead, e.g. Raven or hawk.  Below owlet eating mouse snack.21. GGO owlet with mouse 4713 IMG_0305 (1280x879) 22. GGO owlet swallowing mouse IMG_0314 (1280x853)23. GGO owlet still with downy feathers 7 21 15 IMG_9983 (985x1280)24. GGO owlet with mouse IMG_9994 (974x1280)30. GGO owlet having fun with water 7 20 15 3874  IMG_9644 (1280x956)31. GGO owlet getting into it 7 20 15 3708 IMG_9637 (1280x963)32. GGO owlet splashdance 3984 IMG_9640 (1280x904)Water games in bath provided by Andy Huber–feelin’ good on a hot, dry day.33. GGO owlet wet after the bath 3108 IMG_9737 (919x1280)34. GGO owlet wet and fluffy 3392 IMG_9778 (1280x1034)35. GGO owlet wet cleaning wing feather 3227 IMG_9766 (1033x1280)40. GGO owlet in anticipation 7 19 15 4015  IMG_9202 (1280x1006)Oregon State University or some other western press should pick up this book.  In these days of sad and hopeless environmental news here is a little flicker of good news in the natural world.  One that shows man is not necessarily a scourge to his fellow creatures.  Thanks for sharing, Andy.
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Responses

  1. Thank you (and Andy?) for sharing. Those bath shots are priceless!

    • on these hot days I wanna splash around in there with the young owl

  2. A great story

  3. Wonderful photos. Thanks to both Andy and Harry!

  4. Wonderful story! And I love the photos!

  5. Wow, man. I have become truly fascinated by this tale of high drama and the ultimate act of male chivalry I’ve ever heard of.
    Bravo to Andy and his wife for stepping up to give assistance to this widowed GGO, & her Owlets. I have to agree with the author in his last statement. It is very refreshing to see this as well in. World where it seems 80-90% of these sorts of tales usually involve the human as scourge who’s greed is front line and respect, & the welfare of life other than that persons own is a few steps behind , if at all. Usually not,…
    Andy you have got to be one of the coolest people I’ve heard about .
    I feel I would’ve done the same in this situation as well . Not because of the cool factor or the karma points or anything really , other than pure want to help this mother and her owlets in their success after such a crushing defeat at the hands of the GHO’s.
    That said, as a photographs I can’t help but consider the wealth of photos you gained access to through your act of selflessness and kindness. You lucked into a pretty uncommon situation, and through that I feel like it’s a celebration all around:
    The Owls succeed and find their way into life,… For now (hopefully completely).
    You were given the chance to help while also gaining access into the lives of GGO’s . With that, you were able to learn ( I have to imagine this to be so,… ) quite a bit , not only about this breed of species (? I say that correct?) as well as about the person you are . More so than before at least and if all. And ,
    We, the public who luck into this story and those with interest in these birds, get a to see a diverse perspective of the ‘ day in the life ‘ of mother GGO & her owlets while we read of the experiences and interactions between the two different groups.
    Life, lived the way it SHOULD be, as a peaceful and helpful ( if necessary ) co-exist instance between one species of life to the other , like an easy and natural flow of water upstream.
    So, again, well done Andy, and to the author for the story.
    Before I end I just want to say that I sure hope I never have the experience of the GGO’s wallop due to being too close to a female GGO and her owlets , ESPECIALLY, riding my motorcycle. From what I read earlier it was compared to being smacked in the head by a 2 x 4, with nails!!
    WHEEW!!
    ‘Nuff said.
    Cheers .
    Scotty


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