Jun 21 2010

I’m not Furby

Melissa Crytzer Fry

Okay, so he looks like a Furby. But he isn’t. This is one of two gorgeous great-horned owlets I discovered behind our property. (Yes, it’s owlet … not owlette.)

Contrary to popular belief, great horned owls don’t “hide” during the day – which is how I spotted the owlets. During the daytime, they generally roost or perch in a protected area. This little guy finds protection on the west side of a shaded cliff, perching in palo verde trees, on cholla cacti, or on the cliff’s ledges.

I had suspected for months that the parents had offspring somewhere in the area, though I never saw them. Almost every time I’d jog by, I’d see an adult owl (got some great shots of her, too!)

But last week, I did catch a glimpse of the offspring. Admittedly, they have grown rather large, but you can tell they are still young from their downy feathers and their inquisitiveness with humans.

Let me preface my post by explaining that I have been very sensitive to these beautiful creatures and their habitat. I limited my jogs past their home to only once a week, and when I did take photos, I was very quiet and used the zoom lens so I didn’t get too close. I even contacted the local Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to be sure I wasn’t impacting their habitat.

I was assured that it was okay to watch from afar. But I did learn that tampering with any part of an owl’s nest is punishable by law… not that I wanted to take anything. Raptors are protected by Arizona and federal laws. Even taking a feather or a bone from a nest can result in fines!

It was difficult to decide which photo to post today since I had multiple shots of both of the owlets together. But then I thought: how many people get to see a profile shot of an owl? I’m fascinated by his face and the incredible detail in his feathers!

Like others throughout history, I regard the owl with fascination and awe. These majestic birds have great symbolic significance in many cultures (and in many literary works), and could be a great addition to your next work of fiction. For me – for now, at least – I just want to observe them, enjoy them, and appreciate their beauty.

Stay tuned for a future post about the baby barn owls that were in a burrow only one “hill” away!


8 Responses to “I’m not Furby”

  • avatar Shawna Says:

    oooo I like owls! When I was about 9, my brother and his friends came across some idiots poking at a baby barn owl with a stick, so they rescued it, brought it home, and since we had no idea what to do with it, we put it in our (cleaned out) fireplace overnight until the wildlife rescue people came to collect it. It hooted all night very softly. Cute, sweet, yet mournful.

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  • avatar Melissa Says:

    People’s lack of respect for nature amazes me. BUT – look at the compassion of your young brother and friends! I hope the baby eventually found a good home. They are magnificent creatures.

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  • avatar Kathy Becraft Says:

    Getting a photo like this is tricky. Kudos to you for capturing a cute and beautiful shot. The best part for me is getting to experience a wild bird that is happy & healthy and respected by the human that gave them their space. Thanks for sharing Eagle Eye!

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    Melissa Reply:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Kathy. I know you share the same appreciation for wildlife as I do!

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  • avatar Laura Simon Says:

    He’s beautiful, and I can tell he’s still a little on the fluffy side. What a spectacular animal and a great photo, too! I’ll show him to Eli, who loves to say “who, who” to his cow.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Laura,
    What did Eli think of the owl? Will be posting some of the baby barn owls, too. Stay tuned.

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  • avatar Regina Says:

    What a great picture, Melvin! I didn’t know that they would be out during the day. I love your blog, too, especially the reviews of the books you have read. I will be sure to pick some of them up to read! Thanks for a giving me a great start! See you soon!

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