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Love Is In The Air

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Great Horned Owlets - Photograph by Kelly and George Benish of Bowerston


We tend to think of birds building nests and laying eggs in warmer weather. This is generally true for the small birds. However, some of the owls may already have laid eggs. The large raptors, birds of prey such as hawks and owls, are typically solitary outside the breeding season. When you see two Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) perched near each other, it can only mean one thing- love is in the air.

Red Tail Hawk - Photograph Kelly and George Benish of Bowerston

The Eagle’s nest on Lower Clearfork blew down last fall. In the last ten days, they have begun rebuilding very near the old nest site. Sunday, February 20, I was watching one of the Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the new nest when the male flew in carrying a stick that looked to be as big as my thumb and three feet long (after several years use, the nest can be 12 feet across and weigh one ton). He dropped it in the center of the nest. She picked it up and after several adjustments, appeared to be satisfied with its placement. He then stroked her back with his beak. She turned and scolded him. He then went to the edge and adjusted a branch and she did the same. When done, he stroked her back and she scolded him, again. She went back to adjusting and he gave up. Anthropomorphically speaking, it was his when-the-work-is-done-I’ll-think-about-it-DEAR moment. Love is definitely in the air and copulation, 1-3 eggs, 35 day incubation and several months of feeding are not far away.Eagle - Photograph by Kelly and George Benish of Bowerston

The Red-tail Hawks have been paired up for nearly two months. Their courtship is beginning and you may be lucky enough to watch their aerial acrobatics that precede copulation and nesting. There is a very active pair on Georgetown Road around the swamps and another pair that roosts on the north side of the intersection of SR9 and US22. Red-tails like to nest at the edge of woods bordered by open hunting habitat and will add to the nest every year.

The real fun begins after dark! The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) and the Barred Owl (Strix varia) have been calling the last month. The Great Horned Owl’s call is four to six deep hoots with the middle one or two longer (who who whoo whoo who who). They prefer wooded areas and many will usurp Red-tailed hawk nests for their use. As cool as they are to hear, nothing beats the Barred Owls counter calling and caterwauling. Their call is a very distinctive “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.” But the real fun begins whens pairs or competing males begin caterwauling. I cannot begin to describe it! They prefer wets areas and pine trees and will nest in a cavity. Both species are more common than you realize.

Barred Owl - Photograph By Kelly and George Benish of Bowerston

Where can you go to enjoy these amazing birds? The Eagles are located on Lower Clearfork Road about one mile from US250 on the right side of the road. Red-tails are everywhere but there is a nest at eye level near the end of the guardrail across from Monzula’s vineyard on SR22 just east of Cadiz. It should be occupied by mid-March. The Great Horned Owls like woods and are hit and miss when just listening There are active Barred Owls near the Eagles nest, at Brushy Fork and Elk Run and on Norris Road at the beginning of the Clendenning Lake back waters. The owls will be more active on moonlit nights and well after sunset. . This time of year, both species may call back to even poor sounding human-made who’s. Go online and listen to their calls and then go out and try it

Immature Red tail Hawk - Photograph by Kelly and George Benish of Bowerston

Article Written & Submitted To By:
Dr. Scott Pendleton of the Cadiz Animal Clinic
43255 Airport Road – Cadiz, Ohio 43907
Phone: 740-942-3267

Photography By:
Kelly and George Benish of Bowerston

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Larry Bertolino

Larry Bertolino

Owner at myLocalPCpro
Larry Bertolino is a 31 year old, U.S Navy Veteran and currently sitting on the board of Directors for the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, as well as Harrison County Rural Transit.
Larry Bertolino
Larry Bertolino

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Posted by on February 21, 2011, 7:58 am. Filed under Featured, ThisIsMyCounty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry