Great Horned Owl Chick


We had spotted a pair of Great Horned Owls that had obviously built a nest in the hollow of a tree that had broken in the wind. The problem was that the hollow was in a difficult place to photograph. The fact that the female was staying at the nest meant that she was sitting on eggs and therefore the pair would be staying around for some time. We returned to the site several times but only managed marginal photographs of the parent Owls. Finally the chicks wandered out of their nest, able to climb but still unable to fly. The chick in the photograph climbed down to a lower branch and then proceeded out to where the branch was thin (and probably unable to support the weight of a predator) and there were fewer obscuring leaves.

The chick still has its baby feathers, warm downy and monotone. The face is beginning to develop and you can just see the horns are beginning to form. Compare this photograph to an adult Great Horned Owl from a previous photograph.

The angle of this picture may look a little odd. The camera was pointing almost straight up and the Owl chick was looking almost straight down right into the lens. Several exposures were made, both with a 300mm f4 "prime" lens and a 80 - 400mm zoom. We were surprised to find the zoom had clearly outperformed the prime lens. The zoom lens has a "Vibration Reduction" mode, and even though a relatively fast shutter speed was used, the strain of holding the lens at such a high angle probably induced the blurred result of the prime lens because of camera shake.