It has been fun discovering new things about Fort Collins as the year progresses. We had lived in St. Louis for 27 years before we moved, so it has been a long time since we’ve had a new town to explore. One of the things I learned this spring is that there is a tree that hosts a mama owl and her babies each year, right along one of the main roads in town.

For awhile, the mama owl sat on the nest to hatch the eggs and then to keep the babies warm. As the two babies grew bigger, she had to perch on a branch beside the nest. There wasn’t room for all of them in there any more. Now they’ve ventured onto the branch beside her and I suspect it won’t be too much longer before the babies learn to fly and are off on their own. Kind of sad. I like seeing them peering out over the branches on my way to and from work. But my friend Sheryl (who has lived here a long time) promises that they’ll be back again next year. That will be fun!

WH took these photos with a long lens. (Click on the photos to make them bigger.)Β Aren’t those faces wonderful? The babies started out all white, and just in the past week are quickly getting more and more brown feathers, which allows them to blend into trees much more effectively. Another photographer at the site told my hubby that the father owl is usually perched in a nearby tree, keeping an eye on things. And speaking of eyes – it cracks me up that they always look like they’re frowning. Or very very serious. And yikes – those talons. I would not want to get in the way of those.

Did you know that female Great Horned Owls are typically 22 inches tall with a 49 inch wingspan? That’s a big bird. They eat rodents, rabbits, and … housecats. It makes me glad that this beautiful mama and her babies are quite a distance from our house. No doubt she has to do a lot of night hunting to feed that hungry gang. We keep our cats inside, but you know I have those visiting cats that I worry about enjoy, too.

Sheri whostillthinksowlsarecool.Aslongastheystayawayfrommycats.


  1. Such beautiful birds! And I don’t think Momma looks like she’s frowning – if anything, she looks a bit sleepy. I can’t blame her; having two babies to care for seems like a tiring prospect.

  2. Thanks for sharing these photos. Aren’t they spectacular birds?! When we lived in our previous house we had Barred owls in the yard; we could hear them, but never see them. It’s so cool that these guys were co-operative πŸ™‚

  3. What amazing photographs! Thank you so much for sharing, that is a beautiful thing to get to see in person.

  4. Great pictures! I always think that owls look disgruntled. Maybe because they are nocturnal? I have family members that look like that during the day, too! πŸ™‚

  5. Oh, I love those owls so much and the photos are spectacular! I’ve ridden my bike to work the last couple of days so I haven’t gotten to see them. I’ll need to detour off the bike trail to check up on them on my way home tonight.

    Katie, that video is amazing! Wow!

  6. They’re wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Wouldn’t it be something to have a yarn dyed to knitup like their bellies! πŸ™‚

  7. Thank you for sharing the wonderful photographs! The owls are so beautiful! A friend’s husband built us an “owl” house- sadly we haven’t gotten any barn owls- but I am waiting. Wish I could have seen these owls! Well there is always next year! I can hope!

    And btw Sheryl you are lucky that you can ride your bike to work- I envy you!

  8. I once worked Red Cross first aide for a zoo event, and got the opportunity to meet an owl up close and personal. He had an injured wing, and so was a permanent zoo resident. They had him on a leather glove like holding a falcon. My fondest memory was getting to pet the back of his neck. I reached into the down under his neck feathers…it was so deep I was in the full depth of my fingers before I could scratch his neck. Heavenly!

  9. Sheri those pics are spectacular! You need to send them in to the newspaper or the local news or something! I can’t stop looking at them.

    Man, nobody does it like nature!

  10. We have an owl that has become a permanent resident in our back yard. In fact (it’s 3pm here), I can see him/her perched in the tree right now. It’s so cool to watch him fly along the river and to hear him hoot all night long. I hope he stays around for a while! But, just in case, I am keeping my cats and small dog in the house! I just wish I could get a really good picture of him (probably not gonna happen with my cell phone!)

  11. Awesome pictures. Their colors should inspire everyone to knit in natural colors. Their downy fluff should inspire the spinners. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Sheri, this post was fabulous! Thank you for sharing the owl photos. They are absolutely beautiful birds.

  13. I just finished some “owlie” socks (you can see the pattern on Ravelry) yesterday. There is a resemblance and it was my first time using beads (and I even got the yarn from Loopy Ewe years ago!).

  14. The owl pictures are amazing. I’m afraid I’d bring a chair and sit and watch now and then. They are such beautiful birds, but intimidating on some level too. I totally understand about the visiting cats. I’m afraid they’d be living INSIDE my house by now, along with the cat and dog I already have. πŸ˜‰

  15. Beautiful photo— Those owls are amazing! I’ve been watching the Decorah eagles–totaly mesmerized by them!

  16. Loved the owl photos, Sheri. DD1 and I saw one a long time ago at the top of our spruce tree; it flew away ever so silently and has never been seen again! Lucky you to see all those little ones!

  17. My family lived in southern IL and an owl took off with our 30 lb cat. The owl flew up at least 20ft. and then had to let go of the cat. The cat sailed down and was fine. I think the weight of the cat and my screaming parents helped save the cat.

  18. Holy Cow that was so cool!!! Thank you for sharing those wonderful photos – give WH a pat on the back for us! πŸ™‚
    Awesome that you guys get to enjoy such a natural beauty.


  19. Those owls are beautiful! We had a Missippi Kite nest in a tree in our back yard last spring and it was such fun to watch them raise their babies! I have also enjoyed watching a bald eagle webcam from Decorah, IA this year…Just beautiful birds!

  20. When we lived in San Angelo, TX, there was a family of Great Horned Owls in an area where we walked. They are indeed a lot of fun to watch. They eat skunks, too.

    In Lubbock, TX where we live now there is an undeveloped area near us where lots of Prairie Dogs and Burrowing Owls live. The owls live in abandoned Prairie Dog holes. They are much smaller than the Great Horned Owl, but still very interesting to watch. The other morning as we were leaving for our 5:30am walk we saw two young Burrowing Owls sitting on our mailbox. They screetch instead of “hoot”.

  21. I love owls!! You are so blessed have a family close by like that. Isn’t it amazing in the world of birds that by the time the babies are leaving they are nearly as big as Mom.

  22. What beautiful photos, the owls look so majestic. I am a sucker for any bird of prey.
    It’s so lucky that they nest in such a visible spot every year. I’ll look forward to next years post to see how many chicks they have. Thanks

  23. Thank you for sharing the owl photos! My DH and I both graduated from Rice University in Houston, TX; our mascot is Owls. And, when my husband lived on campus, he was a keeper of the owl mascots. He kept a barn owl in his dorm room, and there were a couple of others in a big outdoor cage. It really brings back memories; that was a very long time ago! (Our 40th wedding anniversary is this coming December.)

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