Great Horned Owl Nest - WOW!


There are some large cottonwood trees East of our house that have had a bird nest for years. In 2005, we saw some Great Horned owls nesting there (see bottom pictures) ... but a few years later, the nest was taken over by some Red-Tailed Hawks.
I didn't see any action in 2009, but in 2010, the Great Horned Owls came back to the nest - perhaps the next generation! ;-)
And if you want to see some really close-up pictures and video of birds, check out these House Finches!

May 19th: Less than two month old owlets - how to order prints of these pictures

great horned owls May 19 f

March 3rd: Great Horned Owl Momma is now continuously in the nest

great horned owl nest March 3

The nearby traffic on Arapahoe doesn't seem to faze 'em
Mouseover image to see nest without "Think Eggs" Truck!

great horned owls eggs

Some snow on March 20th ... but melts fairly soon

great horned owl nest March 20

great horned owl nest March 28

A nearby Robin at ground level - much better angle to take pictures and you can get closer!

great horned owl nest robin

April 5th: cloudy day, but there's a little owlet in the nest - watch the video

great horned owl nest April 5a

April 7th: a bird comes by to say "hi" to the Great Horned Owl - watch the video

great horned owl nest April 7a

Actual pixel crop - related video

great horned owl nest April 7b

Lost the light, but there are two owlets in this double pixel crop

great horned owl nest April 7c

April 10th: Lousy light, but shooting from a deck closer to the owl nest
Saw the owl jump from the nest - first time outa there ... and certainly two owlets

great horned owl nest April 10a

great horned owl nest April 10b

April 13th: Pictures from under tree are closer, but much more vertical
First shot is in the morning looking West, second is evening looking East
Owlets aren't quite big enough (or looking over) to see from this angle - watch video
Mouseover images to see closeups

great horned owls April 13th z1

great horned owls April 13th z2

The view from the neighbor's deck is closer, but getting very green and cluttered - darn!
Mouseover image to see closeup
Watch video of clutter and then a squirrel checks out the Great Horned Owl Nest - WILD!

great horned owls April 13th z3

The "faraway" vantage point has a few (!) less branches in the way - can often see both owlets now
Mouseover image to see Momma Owl give us the beady eye!

great horned owls April 13th z4


Owlet spreads its wings - Mom then imitates it!

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great horned owl sequence

April 14th: Great Horned Owl eyes light in the evening sun

great horned owl nest April 14a


Owlet gives a big yawn!

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great horned owl sequence april 14

April 18th: View from neighbor's deck - mouseover image for closeup
Getting too cluttered - even focusing on owls is difficult - darn! watch video

great horned owls April 18th a

The "regular" viewing point is a little bit better - mouseover to see owlet pop up in fading light
Watch videos: earlier in the day and sleeping owlets

great horned owls April 18th b

April 19th: View from the path is closer, but much more vertical angle - Spring growth here also

great horned owls April 19th a

great horned owls April 19th a

April 24th: Full-frame shot (even with 800mm) from regular viewpoint - mouseover for closeup

great horned owls April 24th a

Fortunately, the owlets are bigger and now more easily seen from the path - mouseover for closeup

great horned owls April 24th path

Only saw one owlet that day - watch video

great horned owls April 24th b1

great horned owls April 24th b1

April 27th: Lonely looking owlet in the nest - mouseover for closeup

great horned owls April 27th a

Momma Owl in a nearby tree - mouseover to see her eyes light up from flash - watch video

great horned owls April 27th b

A view from the back side of the nest of the lonely owlet - his sibling is to the left

great horned owls April 27th c

Also looking West into setting sun of Momma Owl

great horned owls April 27th d

great horned owls April 27th e

April 29th: Two Owlets hunker'ed down in nest - this is as far as I saw 'em out

great horned owls April 29th

April 30th: Owlet eyeballs the camera man as he snaps a picture from the backside of the nest

great horned owls April 30th

May 3rd: Owlets are still in the nest, but getting bigger

great horned owls May 3

Canon 7D plus 70-200 lens plus two (!) 2x teleconverters closeup of the Mom
Mouseover image to see another view

great horned owls eggs

May 5th: Momma Owl in nearby tree, but no owlets in nest - they have fledged!

great horned owls May 5 a

great horned owls May 5 b

Closeup of Momma Owl perched on tree - mouseover image to see another view

great horned owls may 5 closeup

Momma Owl flying eastbound to another set of Cottonwood Trees

great horned owls May 5 d

great horned owls May 5 e

A magpie jumps off the top of a tree

great horned owls May 5

May 9th: Momma Owl with one of her owlets in a nearby cottenwood tree

great horned owls May 9 a

Mom takes flight

great horned owls May 9 b

great horned owls May 9 d

But the owlet just stayed there and eyeballs the cameraman

great horned owls May 9 e

great horned owls May 9 c

May 12th: After a late snowfall

great horned owls May 12 a

great horned owls May 12 b

great horned owls May 12 d

great horned owls May 12 c
On May 19th, my wife and I went for a morning walk and had a fantastic viewing of the owl family under glorious sunny skies. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my tripod and external microphone, so the two videos I took (here and here) were hand-held and pretty shakey - it tough with a 400mm lens! It took us a considerable amount of time to very slowly walk up (and circle around for good light) to the perched owlets to minimize disturbing them and they seemed fine with our presence - one never flew away. After taking pictures for a while, they chirped back at me ... as if mimicking the sound of the camera shutter! ;-)

May 19th: We spot the owlets and a parent backlit on a branch

great horned owls May 19 a

The parent (Mom?) got bored and decided to fly away leaving the two backlit owlets

great horned owls May 19 b

After circling around for good light - Brotherly love among Owlet Siblings!

great horned owls May 19 c

great horned owls May 19 d

great horned owls May 19 e

great horned owls may 19th c1

great horned owls may 19th c2

Probably the favorite picture of the over 300 I took that day!

great horned owls May 19 f

Some closeup actual pixel crops from the Canon 70-200/F2.8ISv2 and 2x TC - handheld

great horned owls May 19 closeup 1

great horned owls May 19 closeup 2

One smiles for the camera while the other says whatever!

great horned owls May 19 g

Stepping back for a bit of a wide-angle view

great horned owls May 19 h

Both owlets just hung out on the branch for quite time as we slowly walked around/under 'em

great horned owls May 19 k

great horned owls May 19 l

Owlet blinks at me - mouseover image to see mouths open

great horned owls may 19th b1

Parent Owl in a nearby cottonwood

great horned owls May 19 n


Parent owls takes flight - too bad wasn't coming at the camera

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great horned owl takeoff sequence

Never got a really good picture of an owl flying - it happens so quick

great horned owls May 19 o

One owlet finally flew away too ... but this one never left the hour plus we were there

great horned owls May 19 p

great horned owls May 19 m

Owlet with open mouth - mouseover both sets of images to see 'em chirp

great horned owls may 19th b2

great horned owls may 19th b3

Wendy looks up at the Owlet who looks down at her

great horned owls May 19 q

Owlet is almost perched on Wendy's shoulder!

great horned owls May 19 r

2005 pictures of Great Horned Owls in the nest - previous generation?!? ;-)

great horned owl nest 2005 wide great horned owl nest 2005 wide

Many of the 2010 pictures were taken from a football field distance away - April 9th, 2010

great horned owl nest April 9a

Picture from May 5th, 2010 - Owl Nest Cottonwood Tree isn't doing so well

great horned owl nest May 5th
Photography Notes: These pictures were taken with a Canon 7D DSLR with a 400mm lens plus 1.4x and 2.x tele-extenders ... i.e. that's a 35mm equivelent of a 1280mm telephoto lens with 18 megapixels on target! Unfortunately, I need all that since I'm about a football field distance away (literally) because of the vertical angle to see the owlets, especially when they were small. Manual focus is required which is challenging with all that reach (even though mounted on a tripod, the smallest touch or wind causes the image to jiggle), but fortunately, the nest doesn't move. Too bad I can't get inches away like this house finch.

The 2005 pictures were taken with a Sony F828 digicam that maxed out at 200mm zoom, but shot from just below the tree.

Some Videos of the Great Horned Owls: