In the photo above, the owlet is looking out over the marsh in the morning after breakfast. From the back, they really do look like owls. Their wing feathers are developing fast. They spend time every day grooming their feathers, stretching out their wings and using their beaks to clean. Very much like a cat (with less licking!). And their wings are getting HUGE. They also now have quite developed tail feathers.
They flap their wings more and more. When the owlets are ‘branching out’ they use them to balance. And some times, for all the world, it looks like they spread one wing out to admire it! Or maybe they are thinking what am I supposed to do with this?
From the front, the owlets are still quite fuzzy and definitely look like chicks. Big chicks. I shot this early this morning after breakfast. (Their breakfast, which I missed because I was still sleeping.)
What do you think the owlet is doing in the photo below? Not singing. Not squawking. Not eating. Notice that its neck is a little fuller and eyes are shut.
It is compacting! From an earlier post (March 5, Owl Pellets):
“Some food particles like fur and bones cannot be digested. Indigestible material left in the gizzard such as teeth, skulls, claws, and feathers are too dangerous to pass through the owl’s digestive tract. To safely excrete this material, the owl’s gizzard compacts it into a tight pellet that the owl regurgitates. The regurgitated pellets are known as owl pellets.”
I collected these owlet pellets from beneath the tree.
Scientists study owl pellets to learn what owls eat. These owlet pellets are about the size of my thumb, two inches long and about 3/4 inch in diameter. Great Horned Owl adult pellets can be 3 to 4 inches long. Researchers compare owl pellets and their contents to determine differences in menu from state to state, region to region. Pellets vary in color depending on the catch of the day.
We know what our owlets eat: mice and rats. If you have been reading this blog regularly, you know we had a leftover rat. (The most photographed decapitated rat in the world.) So to demonstrate how the pellets compare to the prey of the day, I staged this photo using said rat.
If you are wondering… yes, I am completely, certifiably nuts. But wait, it gets worse. Later this afternoon we, my human parents and I, are going to dissect them to see if there are any surprises in addition to the bones and fur. They do not smell at all. It is like laundered or dry cleaned fur and bones. Very cool. Or crazy, depending on your point of view. Maybe I’ll post a photo later.
The owlet talons are very large and they clean them regularly, just like their feathers. And they are really big and fierce looking. Scott and I hope there are no additional ‘put them back in the tree’ moments.
They have grown so much over the last few weeks. The photo below was taken on February 22, when an owlet fell out of the original nest. Go to the first few posts on this blog to read about those adventures!
And here is a parting shot, taken a few mornings ago. A parent is on the roof of our dock, hunting in the early morning. I guess I am going to have buy another type of lens to get better long distance photos. Our dock is over 400 feet long over marsh. Yes, owlets are expensive.