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Great horned owls

Great horned owls

Randy Johnson, who lives on the north shore of Sand Lake, sent us these photos of a great horned owl that’s been visiting him at night.

“This summer lake residents have experienced strange noises beginning many nights just after dusk and lasting much of the night, making it tough to sleep,” noted Johnson. “I assumed it had to be some kind of bird because the noises moved fairly frequently and it appeared that the birds would call back and forth to one another.”

Johnson finally saw the two birds a couple weeks ago. “There was a large one in a tree and the smaller one standing on the edge of my roof. I was startled by the one on the roof, as I got within a few feet before he moved and caught my attention. He looked at me and I looked at him—very obviously an owl—now I know what’s been making all that noise!” said Johnson.

He said he has seen five owls now, and the photos he got were the smallest of the five. He said this one is about 15 inches tall. He said the largest one has a wingspan of 4 or 5 feet. “It’s a pretty impressive bird,” said Johnson. He added that the noise they make is like nothing he’s heard before.

According to Ranger Steve Mueller, a biologist here in Cedar Springs, the bird in the photo is definitely a young great horned owl, just fledged this year. “The unusual sound is likely due to it being a young owl begging to be fed. After leaving the nest, the parents continue to feed young while they learn to capture prey on their own,” he explained. “A pair of owls must have a territory in the area.”

Mueller said there is also a pair near his home, but he has not found the nest. “Each February we hear considerable hooting during the breeding season but rarely notice them at other times of the year, except when crows find them and make a big fuss mobbing them,” said Mueller.

Thanks, Randy for the photos!

Send your wildlife photos to postnews@charter.net.

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