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Nesting Owls: Signs of Spring!

Great Horned Owl on Nest with Owlet
Great Horned Owls begin courting in December and start to nest in January.

Guess Who’s Feeling Frisky?

It may not feel like spring to us, but the owls are beginning to feel a bit frisky these days. Sometimes at night you can hear their hooting and calling. The calling is a part of their mating ritual. The males usually stay in one area and call out to females to come visit them. Their call is also a warning to other owls that this territory is already taken, so stay away!

Great Horned Owls Nest First

Usually the first to nest is the Great Horned Owl. Their courting rituals start in December and January. Owls generally don’t build their own nests, preferring to nest in tree cavities, or use an old Red-tailed or Cooper’s Hawk nest or even an old squirrel nest. The timing of egg-laying correlates with the arrival of spring so that their prey (mice, voles, squirrels and other small animals) will be available and abundant at the time the eggs hatch (6-9 weeks).

Other Owls Nest February–July

Barred Owls nest a bit later than the Great Horned Owls, usually in late February to early March. Eastern Screech Owls and Northern Saw-Whet Owls nest from mid- March to July. For now, enjoy the nighttime hoots and howls of these fascinating birds.

Contributed by Wayzata Store Manager, MELISSA BLOCK