GHO Surprise

by Carl Strang

This year the snow was too deep in mid-February for me to cover Mayslake Forest Preserve thoroughly in a search for the great horned owl pair’s nest. As far as I could tell there was no nest on the preserve, at least in places where I could go with my skis.

Last Wednesday evening, as I left a photography class I am taking at Mayslake, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the distinctive, grating-yelping contact call of a fledgling great horned owl. I approached the sound, and eventually realized there were two youngsters.

The next day I searched the vicinity, and found one of them.

The young owl was perched in a weeping willow.

The young owl was perched in a weeping willow.

One of the adults snoozed in another willow nearby.

Note the white collar and developed feather tufts, in contrast to the immature owl’s.

Note the white collar and developed feather tufts, in contrast to the immature owl’s.

This is a portion of the preserve where my ability to move on the skis was limited by dense shrubbery. Next year I will begin the search in this area, hoping that the nest platform, whatever it was, will be good for another season.

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