This spring, when I learned about Great Horned Owls nesting in Edmonton’s parks, I immediately took interest. I’ve only ever seen owls in captivity and really wanted to see one in the wild. So I took my camera and set about finding the owls in Rundle Park. With some assistance from a person who looked like a bird watcher, I located three juvenile owls that had already left their nest in a tree with a parent hidden further up the tree. They were bundles of fluff and it gave me a lot of joy photographing them.
With this experience behind me, I went looking for owls along the trail system of the Whitemud Ravine. Shortly after I entered the Ravine, I had an incredible stroke of beginner’s luck – my first time out, I actually heard an owl hooting and was led by the sound straight to an owl!
The owl I found was a Barred Owl. It is famous for its distinctive “Who cooks for you” call that I was listening to:
Over a number of visits, I learned from others that this owl had lost its mate and thus was likely vocalizing more than usual in an attempt to attract a new one. In the early spring, the owl had a couple of favourite perches right next to the trails and was easy to find. Now, it likes to hide in the bush and is more difficult to find.
Talking to birders while checking out the Barred Owl, I learned the location of a Great Horned Owl nest along another part of the Whitemud trail system. I found the location and was pleased to find two juvenile owls still in the nest with a parent. Every now and then a little owl would very cutely pop up its head and look out the nest. The little owls grew with each visit, until I came back and they’d moved out.