Two Great Horned Owls took over a Bald Eagle nest on a farm and ranch near Newton, Kansas owned by the Klingenberg family. That was on 1 February. The owls were given the names of Bonnie and Clyde because of the gangsters that robbed banks in the US. Bonnie and Clyde endured the coldest weather the region had known, snow, and rain to hatch the two eggs. The oldest was born on 7 March and is named Tiger. The youngest was born on 9 March and is called Lily. The daughters of Farmer Derek named the owlets. Clyde has proven himself to be a terrific provider and between the two, the owlets are growing bigger and bigger daily.
It is getting much more difficult for Bonnie to keep the eldest under her. And the chicks were both pretty active today with Tiger getting out from under Bonnie and up on the nest to flap its wings. Yes, you read that right – it is up flapping its wings. Hard to believe. They are now 17 and 15 days old.
Here are some pictures from today. I thought you would really enjoy seeing the change in the plumage and see their eyes. Tiger looks like a little old man. (The colour from the streaming cam is very saturated at times).
This is the best look that I have had of Lily. Normally Tiger is rooting around and trying to eat everything. What a little cutie. Bonnie looks down at them with that wonderful motherly love.
At one time they were under Bonnie’s tail keeping warm. When they came out you could really see that beautiful plumage developing on Tiger’s wings and the back of its head. Soon that fluffy white down will be gone.
Here is Tiger out of the nest cup completely and facing the opposite direction from Bonnie. It is standing up well and flapping its wings. Notice the bright orange pads. And look at the back of Tiger’s head. In Canada we have nice warm mohair hats for winter and this looks like a lovely pattern for one of those.
These Great Horned Owls are bringing so much joy to so many and, in the process, people are starting to learn about owls. The streaming cams are great sites to observe what we would normally not be able to see in nature.
Have a fabulous day everyone! Thank you to Farmer Derek for the streaming cam. That is where these scaps were taken.
Horking means to gobble down food, to eat fast, or greedily, not sharing with anyone. When we say a raptor horks down its dinner, we mean that it ate the entire prey item whole. The birds will hold their head up so that the esophagus is clear and literally move their muscles swallowing the food whole. Remember that Great Horned Owls have exceptionally wide esophagi when you look at the following sequence of images.
In the image below, Clyde has brought a mouse to Bonnie so she can feed the two owlets. Bonnie takes it as normal and is goes to lay it down on the nest as she always does. Typically, Bonnie will break off pieces of meat to feed to the two babies at intervals.
In the image below, Clyde is still on the nest. Bonnie is looking down at one of the owlets who seems particularly interesting in eating that fresh mouse.
Clyde has left and much to the shock of Bonnie the owlet is ‘horking’ the mouse. In the image below the mouse is about half way into the owlets mouth and down its esophagus.
Bonnie looks on in shock. Only a small portion of the mouse extends out of her chicks mouth.
Bonnie is unsettled by her baby horking the entire mouse. She might have worried that it would have choked or stopped breathing. So, Bonnie pulls the entire mouse out of the owlet’s mouth and esophagus! In the image below Bonnie has it in her beak.
The owlet still wants the mouse and grabs it with its beak.
This sequence of events is all happening within two minutes. The owlet has the mouse again and is horking it, hurrying as fast as it can so Bonnie will not take it away again.
Bonnie looks on as her baby finishes eating the mouse whole. The owlets were born on 7 March and are only twelve days old today.
It is best to see ‘horking’ than to just read the words. Sometimes it is quite surprising what the raptors can eat whole. Once Big Red and Arthur have their eyases, you will get to see what it is like for a chipmunk to be horked whole.
Today’s word: hork, horked, horking was brought to you by the Great Horned Owls, Bonnie and Clyde who stole a Bald Eagle nest on a farm in Kansas and their two owlets. It looks like Clyde is going to have to find more and more mice!
Thank you to Farmer Derek for the streaming cam where these scaps were taken!
Bonnie and Clyde stole a Bald Eagle nest on a farm near Newton, Kansas on 1 February 2021. The couple must have been desperate to find a place to lay their first egg of the season.
When the Bald Eagles suspected ‘someone’ had been at their nest, they spent the night there – something unusual during off season. One of the Great Horned Owls knocked one of the eagles off the nest. On another day there was a confrontation on the nest when Bonnie defended her egg.
Her and Clyde have kept the nest safe with Clyde bringing in mice for Bonnie around sunset until right before sunrise.
On each of those occasions, Bonnie would take the mouse and quickly eat it. She would ‘hoot’ her thanks to Clyde before he flew away.
At 5:20 am on the 6th of March, however, the action at the nest was different. Clyde brought a mouse to their regular branch. This time Bonnie did not eat the mouse immediately but she took it and deposited it in the egg cup. Observers believe that the first – and maybe it is the only egg – hatched recently. Bonnie had been restless on 5 March sitting higher up in the nest and doing jugular fluttering. Many thought this was to regulate her temperate but it is observed that she is not doing that today and it is actually warmer. Was she encouraging her owlet to hatch?
The following sequence of images show Clyde arriving on the branch, Bonnie responding to him, going up to the branch to retrieve the mouse, and Bonnie returning to the nest to place the mouse in the egg cup.
Bonnie has been very secretive. We do not know if there is more than one egg and we do not know precisely when the first egg hatched. We only know from Bonnie’s changed behaviour that there is something in the nest that requires food or will require food.
I found a short video of a Great Horned Owl feeding her young owlets:
You might want to watch these happy changes at the nest. The link to Farmer Derek’s streaming cams is here:
Enjoy! Have a great weekend!
Thanks to Farmer Derek for providing two streaming cameras showing the action at the Bald Eagle Nest hijacked by Bonnie and Clyde, a pair of Great Horned Owls.
Bonnie is not giving up any secrets. The nest bowl is deep! Sun is setting. It is 6 March 2021.
Tonight Gabby and Samson have both been on the nest looking at their little one.
Observers over the last few days have mentioned how attentive the two parents have been since it was discovered that N24 has Avian Pox. Lesions were first noticed by AEF monitors on 20 February. The lesions became more noticeable and by 27 February many citizen-birders were reporting them in FaceBook posts and videos.
Gabby and Samson look at their baby who was born on 8 February. It is 23 days old. Little N24 is full and sleeping with ‘its egg’.
Little N24 has a very good appetite. And that is such a positive thing. Yesterday, despite a late delivery of food, he ate really, really well. And today, he has another fantastic crop. The crop stores food. The eagle can do a crop drop when its stomach is empty. The crop is like a holding area for additional food.
The lesion that was on the left side of the mouth appears smaller today than it was yesterday.
I tried and tried to get a proper close up and just kept missing the opportunities. The nest has several cameras and the best one to get the left side of N24’s face has had some condensation on it. So, it is not easy to compare because of the angle, the distance, and the lighting but it does seem like the right side of N24’s mouth has made some improvement in healing. It takes 1-4 weeks for the lesions to dissipate.
You can still see N24’s crop at 6:48pm when he is watching some interior decorating happening in the nest. N24 is alert, moving around the nest, eating well, and growing. Let us all continue to send warm wishes to the little cutie pie with ‘its egg’ for a complete recovery.
Flight feathers are starting to grow on N24’s wing tips. The itchy stage is coming.
In the image below, the little cutie pie is sleeping, sitting up like Gabby, its mom, with its head tucked under its wing. They are both incubating ‘the egg’.
It is impossible to keep track of everything going on in all of the nests. As Bald Eagles around North America lay eggs or eggs start to hatch, there is a lot of activity. The hawks and falcons are renovating nests and the Ospreys are migrating home. One thing for sure – there are going to be a lot of bobble heads within the next 4 to 6 weeks.
At the Duke Farms nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey, chick 2 hatched at 1:03 am on 2 March. Both of the little ones are doing fantastic. Aren’t they cute? Eaglet #1 got a chance to have eel for dinner the other day. Looks like it is fish in the pantry today. All of these fathers are great providers.
If you would like to keep up with these two (and maybe a future three), here is the link to the Duke Farm’s streaming cam:
The Great Horned Owl that borrowed the Bald Eagle nest near Newton, Kansas is still incubating eggs. Some are expecting there to be a pip watch in the coming days.
Bonnie’s mate, Clyde, often stays on the branch above the nest to protect her and is busy at night furnishing her with ‘Mouse Take Away’. Bonnie and Clyde are fierce predators especially during nesting season. Remember that they stood their ground with the Bald Eagle and did not relinquish the nest once Bonnie had laid her egg. We still do not know how many eggs Bonnie is incubating. There could be any where from 1-5. Bonnie has not given any secrets up! Her owlets will be born with whitish-grey down with a little bit of brown. As they mature, they will become more brown.
Did you know that the tufts (they are not really horns) of hair on the Great Horned Owls are thought to break up the profile of the head to improve their camouflage abilities? Their short curved feathers mean that they are silent night fliers. Indeed, these large owls are notorious, as of late, for knocking Bald Eagles off their branches in the night. Just the other evening, a GHOW knocked Harriet off her branch at the SWFL Eagle Nest and into the nest bowl! GHOWs will hunt large raptors such as Ospreys, other owls, and Peregrine falcons for food. They are equally happy to have reptiles for dinner as well as mice, fish, insects, worms, and rats.
And so happy to report that the mother and eaglet at the Kisatchie National Forest Bald Eagle nest are also doing fantastic. It has been raining alot and this mother is a really good ‘mumbrella’. Both of them have figured out the feeding and the little eaglet is growing.
And another really good news story. The ‘Old Warrior Eagle’ that had broken its leg and had its beak injured early last fall was down, emaciated, and full of lead toxins. If you are any raptor and have that many problems, the best place to be found is near A Place for Hope in Connecticut. The Old Warrior has been on Clemation Therapy to get the lead out of his system. When he came in, the levels were over 48. Look at the levels today:
He is going to be so excited to be outside in the aviary!
Look at that face. And those beautiful big eyes of this Peregrine Falcon. He was attacked by a cat. And, lucky for him, he is there in the same clinic with the Old Warrior. Get well soon! You are adorable. I could just scoop you up and take you home. Would you like to live in Canada?
Take care everyone. Thanks for dropping by and for caring about all of the wildlife.
Thank you to A Place Called Hope for the images on their FB Page. Thank you to the KNF Eagle Nest, Duke Farms, NEFL and the AEF and Derek the Farmer for their streaming Cam. Those streams provided the screen captures.