Great Horned Owls Rusty and Iris
Iris the Great Horned Owl laid her first egg of 2014 on February 2 and her second was laid on February 5th at 7:10 PM central time.
Link to Cam 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOk7yk...
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Special thanks to International Owl Center. To learn more and to donate to IOC go to http://www.internationalowlcenter.org/
Special thanks to Scenic, Nature and Wildlife Photographers Ron Green and Sue Fletcher.
Q. What are Great Horned Owls?
A. Great Horned Owls (GHOs) are well known for their long, feathery, ear-like tufts giving them the "horn" like appearance and piercing yellow eyes. GHOs are predators able to take down prey larger than they are. Mostly, at the International Owl Center, they stick to live rats and dead pocket gophers but they will eat most anything that moves. GHOs are a found in North America to the southern most parts of South America and can adapt to deserts, forests, grasslands, cities and even backyards. There are many different sub species of Great Horned Owls based on region.
Q. How big are Great Horned Owls?
A: GHO's are considered one of the heaviest owls in North America with a large head and broad wings. The females are bigger and heavier than the males. Males average 2.0 -- 3.0 lbs and females 3.0 -- 4.0 lbs. Rusty and Iris are well-fed and plump, and are at their heaviest in early winter just before laying eggs.
Q: Who are Iris and Rusty?
Iris and Rusty are a mated pair of GHOs. Rusty was hit by a car in 2007 (?) and is permanently blind in his right eye. The loss of his eyesight has diminished his ability to hunt, therefore he is now cared for in captivity at the International Owl Center with Iris.
Iris came to the facility with a puncture to her right eye in 2006. She is likely blind in her right eye as well. Like Rusty, her ability to care for herself in the wild greatly diminished due to the injury and she now must live in captivity. Talk about a match made in Heaven.
Iris and Rusty started mating in 2011 but did not produce eggs until 2012. Together, the pair have produced one brood of three healthy off spring.
Q. What will happen to Iris and Rusty's Owlets?
A: Iris and Rusty's owlets will remain in captivity until they are able to develop their full territorial hoots.. Once they are able to fly, they will be moved to a flight cage where they will have 60 feet of space to learn to kill live prey. Iris and Rusty will remain in the breeding cage. Once the owlets are ready, the door to the flight cage will be opened and they can fly off into the wild. The owlets can still return and find food inside the flight cage but likely after a time the owlets will no longer return meaning they have become self sufficient.
Q. What are pellets?
A: GHO's are carnivores, meaning they eat meat. They eat fur, feathers and bones along with meat. Their stomachs cannot digest their entire meal so at least once a day they will throw up these undigested leftovers.
Q. Where are these Great Horned Owls located?
A. These GHOs are located in Minnesota. This enclosure was designed especially for breeding non-releasable owls. GHOs like other owls are not very good at creating their own nests. They make nests out of pre-existing structures like hawk nests, ledges or caves.
Q. What is the time difference in Minnesota?
A. Minnesota is considered Central Time so is PST +2 hrs and EST -1.
Q. How many eggs will Iris lay at a time?
A: Iris can lay 2 -- 3 eggs at a time. Incubation time is 33 days on average. The owlets will begin venturing out onto branches at about 6 weeks and will fledge at 6-8 weeks. They are capable of breeding at one year of age, but most often have to wait a few years to find a mate and territory.
Q. How can we help?
A. To learn more about Great Horned Owls and how you can help go to http://www.internationalowlcenter.org/