5/12/21 The Brancher

One evening last week I was fortunate to be there when a baby Barred owl emerged from its cozy nest cavity, deep in an old ash tree. For the owlet, it must be a liberating feeling to see the big world for the first time – but it’s also a time of danger. The parent owls must now be much more vigilant, since their big footed ball of fluff is in no way independent.

Every baby bird must leave the nest – but unlike the precocial songbirds, baby owls are not yet able to fly. So they’re “branchers” for awhile, clambering about on limbs and even falling to the ground, where parents continue to feed and watch over them.

Perched on the brink, the owlet looks around for awhile…

scratches an itch…

stretches its wings for the first time…

and flaps energetically.

Having expended so much energy, it’s time for a short nap.

Meanwhile, a parent is quietly watching from above.

The next afternoon, the new brancher is perched on a limb near the cavity, looking much more composed.

But as I watch it hunches, fluffs up and eyes begin to close.

Time for another nap – growing up is hard work!

11 thoughts on “5/12/21 The Brancher

  1. blissgrey

    How exciting!! I would imagine emerging from the nest for the first time is a lot like hatching from the egg shell a second time. All snuggled down, then Boom, being able to stretch and see what’s out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shoreacres

    What a touching series of photos. The baby is cute, of course, but the watchful parent is a delight. Being able to see sights like these is just wonderful. Of course I’d like to see the ‘real thing,’ but the advantage of our photos is that I can go back again and again!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tonytomeo

    Is that tree that the parent owl in where all the foliage comes from? The tree trunk seems to be that of an ash tree, but the foliage is that of an elm, as if it is from that other tree. I am unfamiliar with the species there. Well, I know you have ash and elm, but I have never met them in their natural environment before.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. oneforestfragment

    Thanks for all the comments! It was a unique moment and I was lucky to be there. Only one baby Barred owl fledged this year, same for the Great horned owls I have learned. Owls will eat cicadas too, so hopefully all are well fed this summer!


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