Pair of great horned owlets hanging out in popular Victoria park
A pair of great horned owl chicks are delighting the community around Victoria's Beacon Hill Park, but one expert is reminding residents that while it's exciting to see young owls, they are wild animals that require space.
Jannaca Chick, vice president of the Rocky Point Bird Observatory and head owl bander for the owl banding program says it's "unusual" for great horned owls to be nesting so visibly in a busy, public park — especially because the trees haven't got many leaves at this time of year for them to hide behind.
"It's a real treat to have these owls on display," she told On The Island guest host Kathryn Marlow.
The owlets are still small, with fuzzy white feathers. When they get older, their colouring will help them camouflage when they're perched next to a tree truck, Chick said.
"They have these large, intimidating yellow eyes. They're quite a large bird."
The Nature Conservancy of Canada says the great horned owl is the most common owl in the Americas. Their most distinguishable features are the feathered tufts on their heads, called plumicorns.
Chick, who has been keeping an eye on the young owls, said at one time, only one bird had left the nest, but now both are visible under the close watch of their parents.
"Yesterday, both parents were right there," Chick said.
"The female was right next to one of the young owls, and the male was in a nearby tree. So they will keep feeding them and monitoring them and protecting them from any potential danger."
'Don't get too close'
For those hoping to catch a glimpse of the owls, Chick advises they stay well back.
"Don't get too close. They have incredibly powerful talons, and they're very protective parents."
If you do get too close, you could become a target for the parents, she added.
"They don't like anyone getting too close to their nest or their young."
The Nature Conservancy estimates that there are about six million great horned owls worldwide, but populations are declining.