Great Horned Owl with Juvenile

Earlier this Spring we heard of a Great Horned Owl’s nest at one of the local parks. The word was that the parents and the two juveniles typically sat during the day, making good subjects for the public, birders and photographers alike. My wife and I headed over there one afternoon. Sure enough, there were people watching and photographing the birds–the latter sitting inside a hollow near the crotch of a large tree.  Unfortunately, the Owls were somewhat back-lit at that time of day and their view was obstructed. We decided it would be better if we returned early the following morning when we would have the sun at our rear.

Great Horned Owl & Juvenile
Great Horned Owl & Juvenile

We showed up around 8:00 AM the next morning–and found some photographers already in place.  We were lucky. The birds were sitting out in the open. Mom was in the distance keeping an eye on her older juvenile (the younger was still in the nest), while the juvenile was sitting closer to the path where we humans were congregating.  I mover further down the path which provided me with a good angle for capturing both birds, as shown in the photograph on the left. Mom is in its bottom portion.

Dad was more difficult to find.  However, one birder located him by following the agitated crows. He was sitting about 200 feet away, close to the tree trunk, facing away from his family. He did look around occasionally, as well as calling out to announce his presence every so often.  Unfortunately, he was too obstructed to present a good photo opportunity. His role was one of diversion, as well as providing back-up protection, should it be necessary.

Shortly after taking this shot mom flew over to join the juvenile. This offered several good photo-ops, three of which are shown, below.

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Affection

The juvenile was glad to see mom, but being “out on a limb” can be tiring.

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The yawn
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The stern look

I used my Canon 100mm-400mm lens with a 1.4X III extender @560mm with image stabilization turned off. My Canon EOS 7D and lens were mounted on my Manfrotto (055X) tripod. I set the camera to mirror lock-up and used a cable release to minimize vibration.