Two young great horned owls, having recently left the nest in Stevens Creek County Park in Cupertino, California, stare with rapt attention at their off-screen sibling.

I shot this video April 14th, 2011, on my very first visit to see this family of great horned owls. As early as March 17th, I had read a post on the South Bay Birds mailing list describing the owls and their location. The initial posting said that the owls were still in the nest, but several weeks later a follow-up post announced that the owlets had left the nest. Figuring that if I wanted to see (and possibly photograph) these owls, I had better not waste time lest they disperse. Little did I know that these owls would remain in roughly the same area for nearly a month, all the while providing incredible viewing opportunities and some (occasionally) great photo opportunities.

The owls were located in an oak grove adjacent to Stevens Creek Park’s Madrone picnic area and proved rather easy to find. While the lighting conditions left much to be desired, with harsh sunlight coming from behind the owls, it was a pleasure to watch the owls high in the treetops. Since the light wasn’t cooperating for still photography and each of the owls was at least partially obscured by branches and/or leaves, I instead decided to shoot some HD video of the owls’ behavior.

This video clip shows two owlets staring intently at their third sibling, who is out of view, but whom you can hear calling if you listen closely. The owlets also demonstrate head-bobbing, a behavior performed by great horned and other owls to better estimate the distance to an object or animal.

NOTE: Since this post contains the first video clip on this blog, I thought it would be worth mentioning that it is possible to view this video in high definition. (Unless you have a slow internet connection, I think it is worth it to view the HD version.) One way to watch the clip in HD is to click on the Full Screen button in the lower right-hand corner of the YouTube player window, then click on the Play button on the lower left to start playing the clip. As soon as the video begins playing, a button will appear at the bottom of the screen labeled 480p. Click this button and select 720p or 1080p to switch to the HD version of your choice. Depending on your download speed, you might need to give the video a bit of a head start before playing it all the way through to the end.

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