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NestCam Archives

Great Horned Owl (MN) — 2011

Great Horned Owl

Location: Houston, MN

Hosted by: Karla Bloem & <a href="">The Houston Nature Center</a>

Note: Hopefully, Rusty and Iris will try again next season!

Photo Highlights (31)

    A Warm Welcome

    Jan 20, 2011 -
    Say hello to Rusty and Iris, two Great Horned Owls that are now in captivity due to severe injuries to their right eyes. These injuries prevent them from being able to live successfully in the wild.

    Learn More

    Jan 21, 2011 -
    You can learn more about Rusty and Iris's situation here: Or follow Karla's Alice the Owl blog:

    Nest Cleaning

    Jan 25, 2011 -
    With Rusty and Iris showing more interest in mating and nesting, Karla took this opportunity to clear the nest of "toys" and cached food. See the video highlights for a quick clip.

    Feeding Time

    Jan 27, 2011 -
    Great Horned Owls have such amazing digestive systems that they can eat their prey bones and all. Then they digest what they need and cough up everything else in the form of pellets. Watch the video highlight for a clip of feeding time.

    Both Adults

    Jan 31, 2011 -
    Both owls are on the nest site, which seems like a rare event lately. Most of the time, the camera just keeps an eye on Rusty sleeping.

    A MOUSE!

    Feb 02, 2011 -
    Can you find the little, live field mouse in this image? Perhaps the video highlight will help you out.

    A Brilliant Face

    Feb 04, 2011 -
    Yesterday, Rusty gave us a great shot of his face. It's a beautiful view of his facial disks and ear tufts. Both attributes have evolved to specifically help his night-time vision and hearing.


    Feb 07, 2011 -
    Karla startles Rusty out of his sound sleep. See the video highlights to watch her cleaning the stashed pocket gophers out of the nest.

    Morning Routine

    Feb 09, 2011 -
    This owl goes through his morning routine. He grooms a little, expels a pellet, and then poops. Check out the video highlight.

    Mr. Freeze

    Feb 11, 2011 -
    Brrrr! In Houston, MN there was a high of 11 degrees and a low of -9 degrees yesterday. That explains the frost on Rusty's face!

    A Little Romance

    Feb 15, 2011 -
    Yesterday, Rusty and Iris continued their frequent copulations. This time, we were able to capture some of the action at the nest site. Check out the video highlight.

    Adults on the Nest

    Feb 16, 2011 -
    During the last couple of days, Iris has been spending more time at the nest site. This could be a good sign that egg laying is on its way.

    Look, a nest!

    Feb 18, 2011 -
    Rusty tries to coax Iris into the nest through arranging the material and making some great vocalizations. Watch the video highlight for the full clip.


    Feb 21, 2011 -
    Yesterday morning, Iris made a quick visit to the nest site in order to enjoy a little snack. See the video highlight.

    Iris, Up-Close

    Feb 26, 2011 -
    We were able to catch this great close-up image of Iris at the nest site. You can even see her damaged eye.

    A Third Owl

    Mar 02, 2011 -
    While sitting on the nest platform, Rusty and Iris are disturbed by the sound of a third owl hooting nearby. Go to the Video Highlights for a clip.

    Nest Building?

    Mar 04, 2011 -
    Rusty begins forming the nesting material into a depression, as Iris looks on. Could this mean that egg laying is approaching? Watch the video highlight for the full clip.


    Mar 08, 2011 -
    We caught a brief instance of Rusty and Iris mating at the nest site last night. Be sure to check the video archives for a clip.

    Iris vs. Rusty

    Mar 10, 2011 -
    Here are a few tips for identifying Rusty or Iris. First is size. Iris is much larger. Second, Iris is also lighter in color than Rusty, who is more of a dark tawny color. Finally, Rusty's ear tufts are more defined and typically stick up quite prominently. In this image, Iris is in the foreground and Rusty is in the background


    Mar 14, 2011 -
    Be sure to check out Karla's blog for the latest news on the interloping female: You can also watch the video clip in the video highlights.

    Food Exchange

    Mar 16, 2011 -
    Rusty brings Iris a little snack, which she eats immediately. This exchange of food helps to strengthen the pair bond, as well as makes sure that the female is fit for egg laying. Check out the video highlights for the full clip.

    More Feathers

    Mar 18, 2011 -
    While going through the our image archives of the past couple of days, we noticed more feathers stuck to the sides of the platform. This could indicate that Iris is forming a brood patch in preparation of laying.

    Personal Space

    Mar 21, 2011 -
    Iris gives Rusty a little reminder that she isn't always keen on him being next to her. Check out the video highlight.

    Watching Her Back

    Mar 23, 2011 -
    Iris shows that incredible flexibility of her neck as she rotates her head 180 degrees, getting a look directly behind her.

    Still Time?

    Mar 25, 2011 -
    In northern latitudes, Great Horned Owls may lay eggs as late as mid-May. So there may still be some time for this pair to nest.

    Wing Span

    Mar 28, 2011 -
    The Great Horned Owl has an approximate wingspan of around 44 inches, that's a little more than 3.5 feet.

    Large Prey

    Apr 06, 2011 -
    In the wild, Great Horned Owls are known for their large prey choices. Items might include: skunks, Osprey chicks, Peregrine Falcons, and a variety of waterfowl.

    Iris Attacks

    Apr 08, 2011 -
    Rusty lands a little too close to Iris and she lets him have it! Watch the video highlights for the full clip.


    Apr 15, 2011 -
    Iris gets in a good stretch, showing us just how long her wings are. Watch the video highlights for a clip.


    Apr 20, 2011 -
    While carrying around what looks like a large bone, Iris subtle reminds us why owls are "birds of prey".

    A Little Space

    Apr 27, 2011 -
    Great Horned Owls typically will defend a large territory space. Usually, the males and females will stay in the same territory but only roost together before egg-laying.

Video Highlights (17)

Jan 25, 2011 - Nest Cleaning
Karla removes the "toys", cached food, and other debris from the nest. Hopefully, this will encourage Iris to nest here.

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Jan 27, 2011 - Feeding Owl

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Feb 02, 2011 - He is not dinner
This little field mouse hopped around the nest site, taking advantage of the prey items that have been stashed there.

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Feb 07, 2011 - A Surprise Cleaning
Rusty is startled awake by Karla coming to clean out all the stashed food items.

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Feb 09, 2011 - Morning Routine

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Feb 15, 2011 - An Owl Valentine
Rusty and Iris copulate at the nest site. Rusty is so excited when finished that he accidentally flies into the wall.

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Feb 18, 2011 - Come-on Iris!
Rusty tries to coax Iris into the nest site. Be sure to turn your speakers up in the beginning for some great vocalizations.

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Feb 21, 2011 - Iris

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Mar 02, 2011 - A Third Owl Hooting

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Mar 04, 2011 - Nest Building?
Are we getting closer?

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Mar 08, 2011 - Mating

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Mar 14, 2011 - Female Owl Fight
Iris isn't very impressed with the intruding female, whom Karla has named Scarlett.

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Mar 16, 2011 - Rusty feeds Iris

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Mar 21, 2011 - Personal Space

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Apr 08, 2011 - Iris Attacks
Poor Rusty.

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Apr 15, 2011 - Stretch

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