Great Horned Owl (Case History #6)

Great Horned Owl nestling reunited with its family in a laundry basket nest which is used by the owls for nine years

In the spring of 1992, Jerry and Kay Culton, of Tuscaloosa, brought a young Great Horned Owl to the Wildlife Center after a storm destroyed the nest and grounded the nestling the night before. The juvenile was perfectly healthy, and the Cultons knew exactly where the nest had been located in their wooded backyard.

 

 

Nestling grounded after storm in 1992.

 

Ordinarily, I would have gone myself, or sent a trusted volunteer to supervise the installation of a substitute nest, but it was a busy time, and I was impressed with the deep interest and competence shown by Jerry and Kay Culton. I constructed a well-woven nest of twigs in one of our laundry baskets, and gave it to the Cultons with detailed instructions.  The Cultons installed the basket in a tree in their yard the same day, and Jerry placed the owlet in the basket shortly before dark.

 (Above) Jerry Culton places nest in accessible tree

The Cultons were able to observe from an upstairs deck of their house the reuniting of the mother owl with her missing offspring.  After the nesting season was over, the Cultons had a professional arborist move the basket to a more secure location in a taller tree in their yard.  The nest continued to be used annually until it finally collapsed after the 2000 nesting year.  Since then, they have replaced the basket with a new one.  The basket is in use as of the 2007 nesting season.

Later that night the mother owl joined her owlet on the laundry basket nest.

 

A mother owl and owlet using the basket in the 1996 nesting season, after the basket was moved to a taller tree. The basket was used for another four years before it had to be replaced after the 2000 mating season.

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