Mother great horned owl feeds her baby in the nest
Great horned owls are enormous birds. They are the second heaviest of all the owls in North America. Only the snowy owl is heavier. Also known as the hoot owl and the tiger owl, these are the most recognizable and well known of all the owls. Their large eyes and distinctive ear feathers make them the most classic looking of the owl family.
This owl chick is a few weeks old and he's growing rapidly, thanks to his devoted mother. She has left the nest in search of food while her baby sleeps a little longer. He yawns and stretches as he wakes up and stands in the nest. Mother owl has returned and she has brought part of a rabbit home for breakfast. He is eager for the food and he watches as she walks along the branch and gets into the nest. She shelters him with her wing as she tears off chunks of meat for him.
With each bite, the mother turns her face to the bay and he politely takes the food from her beak. After several small chunks, she gives him a much larger piece. She knows he will need to learn how to rip and tear food as he begins to feed himself. He struggles with the large chunk and she patiently gives him time to try. She goes back to tearing pieces off and then she holds out the leg, hoping he will pull a few pieces off.
After it seems like the chick has had his fill, the mother great horned eats the whole rabbit leg, impressively swallowing a piece that seems impossibly large. She will need a lot of food as she constantly hunts and shares food with her baby all day. After the meal is complete, the mother cuddles with her baby and preens his feathers. It's not just a show of affection and love. She needs to keep him very clean so that he will not attract rats or other predators while he is alone in the nest.
With no ability to store fat, owls are in need of steady food to maintain their strength. They are often only one or two meals away from starvation. luckily, great horned owls are formidable hunters. They use their razor sharp talons and powerful feet to kill animals quickly once they are caught. A great horned owl has the capacity to break the bones of even large mammals by using their feet.
Great horned owls are magnificent birds and the opportunity to observe this one and her baby was unforgettable. What made it even more spectacular was the sound of ducks, crows, jays and even woodpeckers all around this nest. This video was captured in Southern Ontario ,Canada.