Dean M. Chriss
The Look, Great Horned Owlet
(Click image to enlarge)
This great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) is too young to have the prominent ear tufts of its parents, but it has lost most of the thick down that covered it from head to toe when it was younger. The owl is old enough to fly short distances, such as to nearby trees, but lacks the ability to fend for itself. Its mother usually watches from a distance as the owlet explores its surroundings. This young owl was intently watching ground squirrels in a grassy clearing when one wandered near the base of my tripod. It momentarily looked at the lens and this photograph was taken.
At between 18 and 24 inches tall with a wingspan of between 36 and 60 inches, great horned owls are big birds. Males and females are similar in appearance, but as is usual in birds, the female is larger than the male. The great horned owl has a large range that extends across forests in North, Central and South America, from treed arctic regions in the north to the Straits of Magellan in the south.