Great horned owls are impressive hunters, superbly adapted with special feathers for silent flight and acute hearing that pinpoints rodents and other prey in near darkness. They rest in trees right around our homes during the day, hidden by first-rate camouflage. The owls’ feathers are matte, not shiny, so no sunlight reflects. They squint or close their large golden eyes so no glow emits. The cryptic coloring of their feathers imitates tree bark and usually owls blend in even more by hunkering down near the tree trunk.
This time of year, youngsters fledge from nests and establish territories of their own, often showing up where a more experienced bird wouldn’t. My husband was sitting outside at dusk, when a great horned owl came sweeping in just over his head and crashed into the spindly palm tree that shades our house. Again a youngster. Maybe the same one.
I hope he or she sets up shop around here. There’s nothing so evocative as the eerie hoot of a great horned owl at dusk. And how thrilling to spot an owl flying silent on outspread wings, intent on some mysterious errand. These birds of prey keep a check on the rodent population, for which we never really thank them. If this owl could nab that pesky rock squirrel that’s been eating my plants, I’d be forever grateful.
Note: Click on the top picture to enlarge it and see how she squints her eyes closed. If I can’t see you, you can’t see me!