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    Posted December 15, 2014 by
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    Great Horned Owls


    By Susan Scholl Roth

    Every morning when I rise, I look out the window to see if my newly found friends are in the neighborhood. Perched upon the eaves of my neighbor’s house, I often find one or two great horned owls as they enjoy soaking up the early morning sun.

    The owls often follow me with their yellow eyes as I walk along the path behind our house. Although it appears at times that the owl can turn its head all the way around, it can only turn its head 270 degrees from left to right.

    This type of predator is especially powerful against its prey. It is capable of bringing down animals even larger than itself. Residents in our neighborhood have learned not to let their cats outside and to keep their small dogs on a close leash.

    Not only is the owl noted for its wisdom, but it is extremely patient. I have observed the owls on the eaves or rooftops for hours before they make their final swoop toward their prey and land at a force of up to almost thirty pounds. I can feel the tension build as I watch this great bird anticipate its evening meal. With a wing span of 4-5 feet from wing tip to wing tip, the predator finally captures its meal in one swift movement using its long sharp talons measuring from 6-8 inches. Special feathers located in their ears enhance the owl’s hearing to the point where it can hear a mouse squeak up to 900 feet away.

    The female, weighing an average of 4 pounds, is typically larger than the male which weighs on average of 3 pounds. The only way I have been able to tell which is male or female is to see them sitting together.

    The great horned owls have life-long mates, but they do not build their own nests. They use abandoned nests of other large birds. They start nesting in January and raise their family throughout the winter. The eggs take about a month to hatch. In about five weeks, the owlets will begin walking around, and three weeks later, they will have already learned to fly.

    Nature provides us with such beauty. All we need to do is look around and take it in.

    There is an old English nursery rhyme that says it all:

    A wise old owl sat in an oak
    The more he saw the less he spoke
    The less he spoke the more he heard.
    Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?


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