‘We had a little surprise’: Great horned owls move into Cowichan Bay yard to raise chicks

'We had a little surprise': Great horned owls move into Cowichan Bay yard to raise chicks
The owlets are pictured.

Mark Holford’s Cowichan Bay yard is abuzz with life right now, but never did he expect to find who, or “hoo,” suddenly appear there.

“We had a little surprise in the morning, we heard a hooting owl outside our patio door, and it’s really unusual at 9 o’clock in the morning,” Holford told CHEK News.

A look out his patio revealed a huge great horned owl looking down at him, and one, then two fluffy bundles on his steps that he first feared were a meal the big bird had dropped, before shining eyes started poking out at him.

“Its got little eyes and little wings and it pops its head up and it’s a little owl,” said Holford.

The full video report can be viewed below:

The Cowichan Bay man suspects the two owlets likely fell out of a nest in one of the trees overhead. So he quickly blocked the side yard, that his dog considers hers, and kept back as the family made itself at home there.

“And they’ve been hanging out in our garden and their mom or their dad comes by and brings them treats a couple times of day,” he said.

Holford contacted the Raptors Rescue Society in Duncan, worried for the owlets safety, but experts there told him to stand back and let nature handle it.

“Unless they’re injured or one of the parents has gone missing, the best thing we can do is just leave them there because their parents will continue to feed them, they’ll continue to protect them, they’ll sit in the trees above. It’s incredible,” said Robyn Radcliff, with the Raptor Rescue Society.

Twelve days after appearing, they are still in Holford’s yard, and growing fast.

“Oh they’re like twice as big as they were. They’re growing like crazy and yes, their feathers are changing,” said Holford.

The videos Holford has gathered show the owlets learning to climb with their talons, cuddling one another, and bobbing in the signature way owls do, and provide a rare glimpse into the family life of a nocturnal species.

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According to Holford, now they’re even flapping their wings, preparing for flight.

“It’s really awesome to see how they’re developing. I’ll miss them when they fly away but I’ll be super excited when they do because then I’ll know that they’re going to keep going, and do well,” he said.

It’s amazing. I’d say it’s a once in a lifetime experience, but we’re hoping again next year,” Holford added. “You never know. They do tend to nest in the same sorts of areas.”

The chicks are expected to start flying and leave the Holford’s yard within days, after a wild and rare experience this Cowichan Bay man will never forget.

SEE ALSO: Hoot, there it is: Great Horned Owl attacks jogger in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park

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