GHO owlets Feeding time

August 21, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

As the youngsters fledged, most of the feeding took place before sunrise or at dusk. I witnessed a few feedings about half an hour before sunset. Finding them proved a slight challenge. They roosted most of the day and hardly moved so spotting them in the trees was never easy. If sitting on a branch somewhat in the open, an easy find. If roosting in the middle of the tree, in a leafy area, very difficult to find. Many times the loud alarm calls from Blue Jays and Robins would point me to the right tree. 

Feed me, feed me!Feed me, feed me! So just before sunset the two fledglings would wake up and would start to move around a bit and get agitated. They would jump or fly from one branch to another intensely looking for a parent. From my observations it was the mother. And they would call her constantly. The usual call was a harsh repeated sheik lasting about a second or so. A food-begging call. That would go on for about 30 minutes. If the mother was spotted, the youngsters would jump and fly over to her. Many times she had no food for them. When she did bring food it usually was a bird. That’s when the fledglings would go into a frenzy. Both of them would try and get to her first to get the meal. There would be a bit of ‘elbowing and pushing’ going on. Chasing mom for a meal.Chasing mom for a meal. Where is my meal?Where is my meal? In the early days just after fledgling, the mother would still ‘baby feed’ them smaller bits of the pray on the branch. As they got bigger one of them would win the elbowing and pushing and grab the bird for himself and fly to a nearby branch for a meal in private. Mother GHO bringing pray for the fledglings.Mother GHO bringing pray for the fledglings. Second fledgling coming in to claim his share.Second fledgling coming in to claim his share. The other fledgling never challenged the other for the meal. Lucky fledgling got this oneLucky fledgling got this one Looking for another spotLooking for another spot All goneAll gone On a couple of occasions I saw one of them with parts of a squirrel in its claws. I don’t think it was caught by one of them. The squirrel would put up a good fight and the young owls were too inexperienced to make a proper kill. 

Not much of a meal but it will have to do.Not much of a meal but it will have to do. As they got bigger, they became more independent and hunting on their own was the norm. The food-calls were fewer and fewer. There was plenty of pray in the park. It's going to take a while to finish this off!It's going to take a while to finish this off! Lots of Robins and Starlings foraging on the ground. Rodents and small rabbits also abundant. And of course squirrels. They were very hungry in the first three or four months but later on as the growth slowed a bit, so did the hunger. GHOs are very opportunistic predators adapting to what their territory offers. So it was a bit unusual when I saw them try to eat some leaves. Or maybe they were just imagining devouring a mouse?

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