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!