reprint of an interesting article
by Helen Andrews
Winter seems to have just started and already some
owls are thinking spring! Our two large resident owls, the great
horned and the barred, are calling. They can be heard evening and
early morning. They are already seeking out places to raise their
The great horned owl will take a nest used by a crow,
hawk or other large bird; they do not make their own. As early as
January they lay out one to three eggs that will take 26 to 30 days
to hatch. Since incubation starts as soon as the first egg is laid,
the chicks hatch out a few days apart. The youngest and smallest
one often does not survive because of lack of food. It is 63 to
70 days before the young are ready to fly and be on their own. These
owls live in the forest and feed on all kinds of small mammals,
small birds and small owls. It takes a lot of food to bring the
young to maturity.
The barred owl also lives in the woods but often
near a marsh or damp area. They nest in tree cavities and incubate
for 28 days and the young are ready to fly in about 42 days. They
feed on mice, other small rodents, crayfish and frogs. Mice make
up a large part of their diet.
Because it takes so long to fledge the young, these
owls only have one brood a year and start as early as February.
The robin, on the other had, will have three broods a season and
have her young on the wing in less than four weeks.
It is a thrill to hear these big owls calling on
a clear winter night.
Over Dutchess, February