Dean M. Chriss
Elmer's Great Horned Owl Nest

Elmer's Great Horned Owl Nest

(Click image to enlarge)

I photographed this great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) nesting in a tree cavity in mid-March. A tiny and seldom seen owlet had already hatched. Its eyes were not yet open so it was less than 11 days old and spent most of its time under the mother. Great horned owls nest earlier than most other birds and lay their eggs weeks or months before other raptors. Adults can measure up to 25 inches (64 cm) in length, have a wingspan of up to 5 feet (153 cm). An outstretched foot can measure up to 7.9 inches (20 cm) from talon to talon. As with many bird species females are slightly larger than males.

I captured this image during a trip my wife and I took to visit an excellent photographer and our good friend, Elmer. We had not seen him for a long time and had only two days for the visit, which included a 750 mile round trip drive. There was no time to go out taking photos but Elmer would ask every 15 minutes or so whether I wanted to go photograph a fantastic owl nest he had found. Finally he added "I really think you'll be sorry if you don't". It is needless to say that we went. "Elmer's" great horned owl nest is certainly the most photogenic I have seen. This photograph resulted from the short last minute photo session on a dark and cloudy evening minutes before the sun faded. The title is my small thanks for the great opportunity and Elmer's insistence that I take advantage of it.