While John and I were hunkered down in a very wet, cold ditch at Dyess AFB last Monday morning (January 29th to be exact) waiting for a little stealthy Le Conte’s Sparrow to put in an appearance so its Paparazzi could immortalize it, we noticed hardly anything was stirring or flying about. With ice in the ditch, I figured the birds were just staying warm nestled down in the reeds. After waiting for about half an hour we decided to walk on down the ditch to see if anything else was up and about. It didn’t take long before this Great Horned Owl startled us by taking to the air.
So that’s why nothing was stirring. The birds knew a Great Horned Owl was in the area but we couldn’t see it hidden in the tall grass. (Some of the vegetation is as tall as my waist.) But before it flew very far, something else from the sky came into view:
A Red-tailed Hawk, voicing its displeasure, swooped at the owl and you can see the pictures and read the account in the Great Horned Owl picture gallery.
This encounter illustrates how early some of our resident birds begin pairing, establishing territories, and breeding. The Great Horned Owl nests early and could already be incubating eggs. The Red-tailed Hawk will follow soon. I’ll let you know if I see any nesting behavior the next time I’m out at Dyess.