Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Owl Style Bath

Great Horned Owls do bathe, but they aren't like screech-owls who like to bathe every day if given the opportunity. Alice is more than happy to bathe once every two weeks or so in the summertime, and maybe once a month in the winter.

Rain often gets Alice in the mood for a bath. But she's gotten spoiled. (Imagine that!) We've caught her standing on the edge of her bath pan more than once, just looking at us as if to say "would you please give me a shower so I can take a proper bath?"

So we squirt her with a squirt bottle, and depending on how badly she's in the mood for a bath, she may hop into her bath pan within 60 seconds, or it make take a few minutes of hopping from one side to the other of her bath pan before she takes the plunge.

Once she's in, it's mess time. You thought your kids made a mess when they're in the tub? Ha! Alice throws her body and face into it and keeps dipping and ruffling her wings, splashing water all over Timbuktu. But occasional she's only in the mood for a "foot and beak bath" where she hikes up her skirt so she only gets her feet wet and dips just her bill in every now and then. Quite dainty.

In reality, Alice just acts like an overgrown robin in slow motion in a birdbath.

If she's NOT in the mood for a bath and we squirt her, she usually jumps off her perch and runs someplace else. She makes it quite obvious she's not in the mood for bathing.

I don't think many folks have had the privilege of observing a Great Horned Owl in such private matters as bathing. Laura Erickson, staff ornithologist for, has again been kind enough to post this video file on at

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