Watching a baby barred owl


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.

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Baby great horned owl at Fort Desoto Park


My first sight of the baby owl. Sitting in front of mom with his mouth wide open. He only popped up for a moment then tucked back down again under mom. I have to say, the morning I was there, there were a lot of photographers standing around (behind the fence) watching. Everyone was very quiet and barely moving. Just standing still, watching and waiting for the baby to make an appearance. I’ve since read there are two babies. Both seem to be doing well.


Laughing gulls on the beach.


Ruddy turnstone eating something squishy.


Herring gull with a fish.


Reddish egret doing his usual morning dance.


I was at the fishing pier when I saw this pelican flying towards me. I realized he had a fish in his beak. After I cropped it up, I could see it was a shark. It was missing the body so the head must have been thrown out by a fisherman and this pelican caught the prize and took off.


This was a common sight that morning. I think these were blue wing teals flying overhead.


It was a perfect morning in late January for a walk on Fort Desoto beach.

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Saying goodbye to grown up baby owls

I found one of the baby owls high up in the tree scratching an itch.

The older sibling was even higher up sleeping. I found him through an opening in the branches.

Wood duck floating down the river by the owl tree.

A hawk flies by.

Butterflies and flowers are now everywhere.

After my trip to Fort Desoto to see the new owl family, I decided to stop by Kapok Park on the way home to see the two baby owls there one last time. I had heard they were flying around from branch to branch and really hard to find now that they have left the nest. Soon they’ll leave the park for good. I got there hoping to find them one last time. I kept looking high up in the tree and finally found the first one when it moved to scratch. I decided to walk around the boardwalk for a while and walking back I saw the other owl high up through the branches sitting in the sun. They grow up so fast. Now that they are grown up I’ll probably have the park all to myself. Just me, the dog walkers and joggers. There’s still a lot of great stuff there even without the owls. Now that it’s light after work, I’ll head there for a walk before heading home often.

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Great horned owl family #2

Mom sleeping wedge into the tree. I stood there with several other people for about a half hour.

                Finally, she starts to move around and we see a white speck!

Mom and baby are trying to stretch and move around in this tiny spot.

Mom scoots up and we get a good view of baby. It looks like there’s something wrong with one of baby’s eyes.

Baby sits by itself but mom looks down on it keeping watch.

This is the owl family from Fort Desoto. I got there when the owl was about 10-12 days old. I was excited to see it still white and fuzzy. Early in the morning while it still felt a little cold, the mom was sleeping and hiding the baby. As the morning warmed up, they both started to move around. This is a tiny nest. I won’t sugar-coat it. There were two babies born but within a week one of the babies was found dead on the ground by a park ranger or volunteer early in the morning. It was after a bad storm had moved through so the baby could have fallen or been blown out. Since the nest sits right on one of the paths that lead from the parking lot to the beach, the park roped off a good part of the area. These were taken two weeks ago so by now the baby is pretty big. I have seen more recent pictures of it and the eye looks okay now so whatever was wrong seemed to have healed quickly.  

Baby owl update

The oldest sibling is now sitting up on a branch that looks over the trail. As you walk down the trail, you can’t help but see this owl watching you walk by (although most joggers aren’t paying attention).

From the back side of the tree. The younger one is still staying close in the nest. You can start to see the colors in the feathers of the bigger one start to form. And look at those talons!

The parent still sits a few branches up from the nest.

As I was leaving the park, an otter showed up for a few seconds right in front of the parking lot. When some bikers came by, he took off down the creek.

An update on the owl babies from last weekend. They are about 6 weeks old at this time. They are growing up so fast. The older one is bigger. It must be at least several days older. I’ll keep checking on them until they fly the coop.

More of the baby owls

"Oh look, that girl's back. How long is she gonna stand there and stare at us this time?"

“Moooom, I’m hungry.”

"Mom, I see you up there. Come down here and feed me."

"You birds be quiet down there. I'm napping."

"Everyone be quiet, Dad's napping as well."

“Maybe she can’t see us behind all this moss.”
A week later,  I paid another visit to the baby owls. I think they are 3-4 weeks old at this point. Now they are big enough that Mom doesn’t sit in the nest with them as much. She was sitting a couple of branches up from the nest. The babies could see her. It looked like they kept looking up at her. Dad was one tree over and up a little higher. Both parent slept the entire time I was there. Soon they’ll be outgrowing that nest spot and will be sitting on their own branches. I’m going to try and check back again in another week.

Owl babies

"All these photographers staring at us is boring."

"Hey, is that one doing a dance?"

"Naw, he's just got ants in his pants."

"I'm going back to sleep." Maybe they'll all leave."

"You two stop making fun of all those people. They just think you're cute."

My 2nd baby sighting of the year is a pair of baby owls. (The first was baby night herons, story coming tomorrow). I think they’re about 3 weeks old at this point. There’s a small park not to far from my home and work that I hit pretty often. The first two spring seasons I was there, the owl had one baby. Then last spring the owls didn’t stay and nest so it was a let-down. Then I heard the owl couple was back.  Several weeks I visited and there was always an owl sitting on the old nest. I was holding my breath when I had read a baby had been born. I headed out a couple of days later and for two hours all I saw was a tiny bit of white fuzz from behind the parent.  This past Saturday, I headed out early and was hoping to see the baby. To my excitement, not only was the baby so big now he was highly visible, there were two of them. I don’t know if this is the same couple from the last couple of years. If so, why didn’t they nest last spring? And was this their first time having twins? Hopefully, I can get back there each weekend until they are all grown up. The last picture is of the other parent, who was sitting high in a tree close by.