In late February I stopped by a park nearby to see if any baby owls were born. I could see the mom in the nest and I had heard there was at least one baby but I couldn’t see anything. Finally, right before leaving, the baby popped it’s head up for a few minutes. Maybe a week old at this point.
I stopped by the nest for a quick peak a few days later and the baby was sitting up higher in the nest and looked much older at this point. For the last several years this couple has had 2 babies. Not sure why this is an only child this year.
Nearby this squirrel was hiding in a hole in a tree. I wonder if he’s building a nest in there.
Nothing at Chesnut Park but gators so I headed over to another park to see if the baby owl was awake.
The parent was easy to find. Just look for the big group of photographers pointing their cameras up at her. Since the baby was sleeping when I first got to the park, everyone was keeping an eye on her.
A little while later, a head pops up. The baby great horned owl was awake, barely.
She was staring up at Mom for a while but I don’t think Mom was ready to feed her so after a few minutes the baby went back to sleep.
I found the owls in the same spot they were last year. The park is not too far from work so I stopped by one night before dark. Found one of the adults on a branch just above the nest. “My, what big feet you have!”
Found a baby sitting on the nest. A little fluff ball.
I looked for eagles along the utility towers across the bay where they usually hang out. I couldn’t find any mixed in with all of the cormorants.
The eagles are not nesting in the middle of the horse farm this year. There was a lot of new construction going on nearby so I was afraid they wouldn’t come back this year. I found them nearby in a utility tower. I think they took over an osprey nest high up in the tower.
After I left Bok Tower Gardens I stopped by Lake Parker in Lakeland to get out and walk around for a few minutes before heading back to Tampa. It was a quiet afternoon with only a few critters near the boat ramp.
Next to Lake Parker is a huge soccer field. There was no one playing on the field that day but I’m sure on a weekend there are tons of kids running around. There were light posts along the fields and in between them with nests on them. All of them had osprey nesting on top except for one. One light post right at the entrance to the field had an owl nest. The sun was not in my favor that afternoon but I was able to get the above. There were two almost grown owlets on the nest with Mom but one was hiding on the other side of Mom. On nights and weekends these fields are packed with screaming kids playing ball. I guess the owls don’t mind.
A few things I saw on my central Florida trip to Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales and Lake Parker in Lakeland in early March.
I had heard that the barred owl couple had two babies that were doing well. I finally made it over to Lettuce Lake in late April. I was thinking it was going to be close to impossible to find them. I was hoping they were in the same area as last year. No sign of them there so I decided to walk around the park for a while. I then saw some men on a tiny dirt trail through the swamp and headed that way. People would say “Are you crazy, heading into the swamp towards some men?” but I recognized them and I knew they knew where the action was. We stood in silence for a while watching the mom feed the baby owl. They said they had not seen the other baby that morning. After a while, they left to go find another bird. For an hour, I stood behind a tree in the swamp watching. I could see people on the main trail going by through the trees. I kept looking around high up in the trees for the other baby. I was going to leave and heard a sound like a sneeze right over my head. That other baby bird had been right over my head the entire time. I’m surprised he didn’t poop on me. I finally headed home since I had sweated off my two coats of DEET. The above are a little fuzzy. They were very far away in the shade and these are extremely cropped.
The youngest baby owl was high up in a tree. He didn’t get there by flying. He was hopping and flapping from branch to branch.
He was watching mom who was close by in another tree. Mom was trying to get him to fly over.
He was very hesitant to move.
He kept flapping his wings which made everyone think he would finally take the plunge.
I think he was still practicing.
I got to the park around 9am back in mid-March. I had heard the baby owls were already moving around. There were a handful of people standing around waiting for the youngest baby to fly, at least to a nearby tree. The oldest baby had already fledged and was close by somewhere but no one could find him. Mom kept flying from tree to tree close by where the baby was watching. I think she was trying to get him to follow her. I stood around for an hour waiting with everyone else. Finally, I left and walked around the rest of the park. I came back two hours later and the baby owl was still sitting in the same spot. At that point I was hungry so I headed for home. I did hear that the youngest finally did take off although I don’t think it was that day. They are all grown up now. The parents are once again empty nesters.
The palm warbler was guarding the sign at the owl’s nest. The area was fenced off while the nesting was going on. It has since been taken down. Until next year!
My first encounter with a baby barred owl. Although he’s almost grown up, he still has a little fuzz. This bird just stole my heart. I had been at Lettuce Lake park for almost two hours and was walking back to the parking area when a very nice guy just said “Hey, I just saw an owl fly into that tree right there.” I had looked everywhere in that area when I first got there looking for the owls and didn’t find them. I walked down the path and at first I saw the parent that had just flown in. I was watching it for a few minutes when I noticed a few trees over was the baby. Looking right at me. He was a little ways into the woods so these are all cropped up.
I thought he was curious about something on the tree. He hunched down getting closer to the branch.
He then closed his eyes and took a short nap right there. I walked around the area for a while. I saw a hummingbird go by me and looked around for a long time trying to find it. It went deeper in the woods so I lost it.
I came back over to the napping owl and he was just waking up. A loud hawk flew overhead and he looked up to see it.
Then he was fully awake.
I don’t know if this was a sneeze or the end of a yawn but he made a funny face.
He started investigating around the branch.
He was probably thinking “What are these big yellow things?”
“Hey, I can hold something with these big yellow things.” It looked like he was eating a leaf.
The parent was a few trees down keeping an eye on things. I finally left an hour later than I should have but what a great way to spend that hour.
What started out as a boring birding trip ended up being one of the best times I’ve had in a while. Watching that cute baby owl was the highlight of the trip. As I stood on the trail watching the owl deep in the woods, people were walking by heading to the canoe launch. Everyone would ask me what I was looking at. I would show them the owl up in the tree. A few people got really excited. A handful said “Yeh, I see owls here all the time.” It’s funny how different people react to birds.