December 5, 2022

great horned owl, markham, ontario

In early spring, 2021, Bob and I were contacted by a friend who had been tipped off to the location of a Great Horned Owl in our midst.  It turned out that there was a pair of these owls raising a newly-hatched chick near the urban area of Markham, Ontario.

great horned owl in its nest, markham, ontario

Less than 20 minutes from our home meant that we could adhere to pandemic restrictions and go in search of the nesting owls ourselves.

great horned owl in its nest, markham, ontario

We set off a day after learning about the owls, May 7, to see if we could locate the nest without drawing further attention to it.  Bob and I felt like we were on a clandestine mission to go unobserved ourselves while actively scanning treetops for the owls.

great horned owl in its nest, markham, ontario

Our friend had given very good directions, but even so, it took several minutes at the appointed location to take notice of the well-camouflaged Great Horned Owl sheltering its owlet in the nest.

great horned owl and owlet in a nest, markham, ontario

Said to be using the abandoned nest of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, the Great Horned Owls had chosen the location near a busy walkway in a green space.

great horned owl and owlet in a nest, markham, ontario

Observant pedestrians had first taken notice of the Great Horned Owl adults early in March.  Our friend had learned that the owls claimed the unused nest as their own about the middle of that month.

great horned owl and owlet in a nest, markham, ontario

I nonchalantly photographed the mother Great Horned Owl and her owlet while paying particular attention to approaching cyclists or pedestrians.  My camera was quickly lowered to a tangle of bare bushes whenever someone rounded the bend in the trail.

a great horned owl and owlet in the nest, markham, ontario

The owlet was believed to now be about 2 weeks old.  As such, it only peeked over the edge of the nest a couple of times while we were on site.

great horned owl in dense tangle of trees, markham, ontario

The male Great Horned Owl was somewhere nearby, so Robert walked into the woodlot in search of him, while I sauntered further down the paved trail.  Both of us caught sight of the male Great Horned Owl but our views were terribly obscured.  In no time at all, a pair of American Crows put the run on that owl and we took our leave of the area.

Related:

Snowy Owl With Kill On The Ice At Frenchman’s Bay

Great Horned Owl in Whitby’s Thickson’s Woods

An Eastern Screech Owl (Red Morph) in Burlington

Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

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