I recently visited the great horned owl’s nest to see if I could detect any evidence the owl is hanging around again. Last January, an owl used this abandoned crow’s nest to raise two chicks. When I got under the nest, I heard a crow begin to “bark” really loud. It took me about ten seconds to spot him in a tree fifty feet from the nest. He was clearly agitated. Within thirty seconds, two more crows arrived. One dove straight into a pine as seven more crows arrived from the North. I immediately saw the female great horned fly out of the tree and into the nest. She ducked for cover in the nest as the crows continued to call loudly.
|If you were a crow could you see the owl?
Mobbing behavior is common among crows. They often will chase hawks or owls from tree to tree. I watched this same owl get chased from six different trees over a period of twenty minutes last January before landing in the nest. We have also seen crows dive down and nip at this owl with their beaks as she perches. The literature suggest that they do this to protect themselves and their young or potential young. Researchers have even shown that crows will begin to display this behavior within several minutes after being exposed to just a stuffed owl in a tree.
On this particular day it took ten minutes for the crows to leave the area around the nest. One crow came back twice and called before leaving for good. It makes one wonder whether the crows just got tired and gave up or did they actually forget about the owl. Was this a friendly game of “hide and go seek” or were the crows trying to teach the owl a lesson? If the latter is true, this owl is a slow learner.
We discovered the owl on the nest for the next several days, which indicated she probably already has eggs.