Wednesday, November 06, 2013

One of the Girls Swallows a Rat Whole

This morning at work I had the cams up and heard a noise that sounded suspiciously like an owlet hitting gravel.  I saw one owlet missing from the perch, so quickly logged into the PTZ cam and waited an agonizing amount of time before I had video.  I panned to where the other owlets were looking to find one of the girls on the ground with a rat that she had just caught.  Right after I panned over she proceed to swallow the rat WHOLE!  First time I've seen one of the owlets swallow something whole since they were 10 days old.

She proceeded to look for another rat in hiding, and a few hours later caught another one.  That one she tore into bits to eat, as usual.


  1. How cute! I'm curious since mom and dad are unable to hunt, how do their young learn? If the owlets can't learn from able bodied parents, then they are unreleasable. They will starve if turned out without the hunting skills. I've heard of many rescued owlets that died after being released.

    1. The owlets have a natural hunting instinct that just requires practice (and supplemental feeding from Mom & Dad or humans until they get it down pat.) These owlets have had live rats since mid-summer, including when they were with their parents, who caught and killed the first rats in front of the owlets. The owlets will also have food provided in their pen for as long as they come back to mooch.

      Keep in mind that many young wild Great Horned Owls die in their first year because they don't develop their hunting skills well enough either. That's completely normal, although not nice to see.

  2. Good job! All I could think was gulp, burp. Are these live rats that she had to catch?

  3. Thanks, now I can watch this over and over again :-)

  4. Yes, I've heard about only 50% make it. Fortunately, we've seen our resident hay barn owl momma with her young throughout the summers. I just hope they make it when she cuts them off in the fall. I still hear plenty of them at night so I'm hopeful. We have lots of prey here on the ranch.