Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mother & Child

I showed you individual shots of the mommy owl and baby owl from Saturday earlier this week. I went back to the Venice Rookery later on that same day, and I discovered both birds together up on the tower near their nest.

As you can see, the baby is almost as big as the parent, he just needs to grow in some actual adult feathers.  I didn't think he was that big earlier in the day when I saw him peering over the edge of the nest.  Scuttlebutt among the gathered photographers was that there had been two babies up until recently.  One of them had fallen out and been taken to a local animal rescue center where he was doing well.  Hopefully, they'll be able to raise him and release him to the wild.

The hard part was getting a shot of both of them looking at the camera at the same time. The baby was much more curious about us photographers down on the ground, but the parent could care less about us and was intent on the sundown for some reason.

I figure catching them both looking in the same direction was a good shot, even if it wasn't in the direction of the camera.

Looking at each other, perhaps? That's not a bad shot.

Mommy got so bored with the proceedings that she started yawning.

And the joke among the photographers on the ground was that baby had gotten into the poison ivy. He was scratching a lot.

It takes a lot of stretching to get those wings ready for flight.

Then Mommy got the itchies.

Then everybody got the itchies.

The almost full moon was rising in the background, and I found a hole in the trees to get the shot. Unfortunately, I couldn't manage to get both the moon and the birds in focus at the same time. It's a tough shot to get.  I suppose I could look up how far I needed to be away from the birds at a given f-stop for both the birds and infinity to be in focus at the same time...  I know, the moon really isn't at infinity, but at 238,000 miles away, it may as well be.  Hmmm, looks like I would have had to be over 600 feet from the birds before I stood a chance of getting both them and the moon in focus.  Not likely.

I got tired of shooting the owls for a bit, and wandered off. When I returned, there had been some movement, and the sun had gone down. You can see that Mommy looks more alert now. Pretty soon it will be her time to shine.

Baby didn't want to stay down in the nest for long, so he hopped back up beside mommy.

As I said, the sun had gone down at this point, so I was pretty close to shooting in the dark. But I was happy that I finally got some pictures with movement in them.

But then Baby got back in the nest.

Then he jumped up beside Mommy again. He's a little indecisive or insecure or something.

I wish I'd gotten motion shots like this when there was some light to be had.

Baby's got his eye on Mommy, but Mommy is looking like she's ready to get on with the hunt.

Baby makes his move to go be with Mommy.

But just like that, Mommy is off.

But Mommy didn't go far.

She just flew to the top of the tower where the nest was, but it seemed to be far enough that Baby couldn't hop up there. It was only a minute or so after this last picture that Mommy spread her wings and flew off into the trees. I know this because I was watching. If I hadn't been watching, I never would have known because she didn't make a sound. Not a flap, not a rustle, not a hoot. Well, actually, she did hoot a few times while she was sitting up top like that. Fairly faint for a bird this big, but very distinct. I imagine that she was telling her baby not to worry, she'd be back soon with some nice field mice for dinner.

PS-These Great Horned Owl pictures are dedicated to my friend Meredith, who I haven't seen or heard from in a long while now. She introduced me to my first great horned owl, and I've been hunting for them and other birds ever since. Thanks, M!

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