A Rough Night for Owls

A young great-horned owl dries itself in the morning sun after a night of heavy rainfall.

One morning this week I headed to St. Louis to check out a pair of great-horned owls and their single owlet that has been out of the nest for a couple of weeks. It had rained most of night and I had been thinking of them, especially during the heaviest downpours. I knew they were built for weather, at any age, but I wanted to see for myself how they had fared the rough night.

Upon arrival I observed the mama owl but there was no sign of the owlet. I watched the mama from afar for a while to get an idea where her owlet might be located but my plan was to no avail. Finally, I took a few pics of mama (boy was she soaked!) and headed back to my car. As I was loading my gear, I saw a shape over my right shoulder but it was only about a foot off the ground. I assumed it wasn’t the owlet but I took a look through my binoculars anyway. Sure enough, it was the solo owlet, soaked but apparently none the worse for wear.

A mama great-horned owl, indignant after a rough night of storms.

The owlet was quite drenched but appeared alert and well. Also, I knew mama was close by to take care of her only fledgling. After a few pics I skedaddled on down the road so I wouldn’t attract any attention to the vulnerable owlet. Later, as I was writing this report, I began to worry about the owlet but I felt better when my friend Aileen said she would check on the little critter on her way home from work. Aileen lives near the park.

A look from the opposite angle revealed the owlet to be in decent shape after the heavy rain.

When Aileen called me around five to say that she had spotted the owlet back up in the treetops looking warm and dry, I was quite relieved. I suppose like most people, I get a little too attached to the animals I observe. Thanks Aileen for making my day!

Speaking of great-horned owls and other raptors in St. Louis, I am working on a feature story for Missouri Conservationist about some of the birds of prey I have observed and photographed in the City over the last 10 years or so. Watch for the story this winter; it will be filled with images and anecdotes.

Happy Naturing,


Note:  These photographs were taken with a 700 mm lens from a significant distance away. Please be extra careful, not only around nests, but around recently-fledged birds as well. They are still trying to find their way in the world. We all love them but we must be careful not to love them to death.

Happy Naturing,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery:  https://dannybrown.smugmug.com

America is beautiful. I vote to keep it that way.



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