Great Horned Owl
April 14, 2012 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I have a Great Horned Owl Nesting in the dead palm tree outside in my lawn. I live in West Florida and have taken several pictures which indicates that It Is The Great Horned Owl. Should I remove The Dead Palm? Should I be concerned?
posted by brittaincrowe to Pets & Animals (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Should I remove The Dead Palm? Should I be concerned?" I do not understand the question(s) What is it that concerns you--the owl, tree or both and why. Thanks
posted by rmhsinc at 9:17 AM on April 14, 2012

Is your concern that you want to remove the palm tree, and are concerned for the owl, or is your concern that you don't want the owl nesting near your house?
posted by endless_forms at 9:17 AM on April 14, 2012

Best answer: Dead palms are the regions natural birdhouses. All over Florida you can see how they've become adapted as nests. This is great, and it's why people are encouraged to not take down dead trees.

Why are you concerned? Owls are awesome! Uh, don't let any small cats roam the yard though. :)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:17 AM on April 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure I understand your question? Why exactly would you be concerned about a great horned owl nesting in your yard?
posted by strixus at 9:18 AM on April 14, 2012

Response by poster: The Owl is of great concern if it attacks.
posted by brittaincrowe at 9:22 AM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

The owl is not going to attack anyone. Don't attack it.
posted by pracowity at 9:27 AM on April 14, 2012 [23 favorites]

I doubt the owl will attack humans or even pets. Besides, owls are federally protected, at least according to the article.

You ought to feel blessed, actually.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:28 AM on April 14, 2012 [18 favorites]

Owls are cool, and they do not attack people. I would not let your pet bunny play in the yard alone, but otherwise you will be fine. Please do not cut down the owl's tree.
posted by Forktine at 9:33 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it attacks what? It's certainly not going to attack YOU. The only things that might be in danger would be SMALL pets: young kitten, chihuahua puppy, baby bunny, that kind of thing. Mice.

Great horned owls are super cool. Watch its neck (white feathers) balloon out when it hoots.
posted by kestrel251 at 9:36 AM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am not a lawyer, but I believe that removing an active Great Horned Owl nest would be illegal under the migratory bird treaty act.
posted by agentofselection at 9:58 AM on April 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

Pretty much ALL birds (except pigeons...and one other IIRC) are protected in this country and VERY SPECIFICALLY their nests. If you move it you CAN go to jail. It's one of the few things the EPA has any teeth about (mostly due to the power-line-related die-off of the American Bald Eagle in the late 70's-mid 80's...they're fine now, thanks for asking). Get binoculars! Post pictures!
posted by sexyrobot at 10:00 AM on April 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Great Horned Owls are magnificent creatures which I hope that all people regard with reverence, respect and awe. They are not known to attack people. Please take care of your cats & let the bird nest in peace until its chicks fledge and fly away. Then, if you desire, cut the tree down in the fall.

Anecdotally, I visit a cave 2 or 3 times a year that has a Great Horned Owl who lives in the entrance room, and it always keeps its distance from us - There have many dozens of visits to that cave & the bird has never threatened anyone. Sighting him on a trip there is always one of the highligts of my year, as he's beautiful.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:01 AM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are incredibly lucky to have such a beautiful bird nesting on your property. It will not spontaneously attack you. They are not known to attack people / children. Enjoy it from a respectable distance and let it be. It may, of course, attack squirrels, rodents and any small pets you might have (mistaking them for small mammal prey). I'd keep the cats indoors just to be safe.
posted by jnnla at 10:04 AM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Good news is it will cut down on your small furry pest population. As I'm in the middle of a war with mice in my garden/house at the moment I'd love an owl around. But as everyone else said you'll be fine, if you have any small furry pets I'd keep them inside but most owls roost during the day anyway so unless they are out at night or in the evening/dawn I even doubt there would be a problem then.
posted by wwax at 10:10 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Right: admire owl, keep tree, retain cats indoors (read up on the carnage feral and outdoor cats, including those I once let roam before my enlightenment, do upon the birds of America; Jonathan Franzen is good on the topic), and count yourself very lucky.
I envy you.
Dead palms stand in my Florida yard. Hoping for an owl. So far only woodpeckers.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 10:18 AM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

My coworker chased a hawk off her property now she has rats all over. What would you prefer? A beautiful owl up in a tree eating those rodents or disease infested rats coming into your home?
posted by no bueno at 10:38 AM on April 14, 2012

I think we need to see photos of this owl in order to determine its attackitude.

But seriously, the only things it's going to attack are small animals and vermin, and I am seething with jealousy that you have something so cool in your yard.

Give a hoot, don't uproot.
posted by Gator at 11:03 AM on April 14, 2012 [24 favorites]

"During this time, males will fiercely protect the nest," Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesman Zen Mocarski said. "They have little fear in protecting the nest and will attack just about anything posing a threat, including people." from here

You should call your local Fish and Game department and explain your concerns. They will know what to do. And if owls have attacked people in your area. Get some first hand advice from professional locals.

For what it is worth I had a great horned owl in my back yard and I started to ask around and every neighbor of mine had a terrible "owl flying off with a small pet" story. I live in the wilderness of Idaho. The owl left when I got a large dog.
posted by cda at 11:08 AM on April 14, 2012

Seriously, unless you and your family has a habit of wearing wreaths made of live mice on your heads, you are in little to no danger of being attacked by this owl.

on preview: yeah, true, if you approach the nest when there are eggs or fledges you might have an issue.
posted by elizardbits at 11:17 AM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are so lucky! Enjoy your owl. Hide any chihuahuas or pet bunnies.
posted by Ostara at 12:15 PM on April 14, 2012

they will protect the nest, sure, but unless the OP plans to climb the tree and actually get near the nest, there is no danger to anyone in the vicinity except rodents (and maybe really small cats and teacup poodles).
posted by rockindata at 2:16 PM on April 14, 2012

We actually had a small series of "attacks" I guess, where the owls (not Great Horned) have grabbed at people's heads as they go up a street on a hill in my area. People have taken to calling them the Owls of Bonair. They haven't done any damage except to mess up a few 'dos, and it was pretty clear they were protecting nests. I'd consider myself really lucky to have them nesting on my property! If you're worried about the tree coming down on your house, you could have someone come in after they fledge and move the nest elsewhere.
posted by emcat8 at 3:47 PM on April 14, 2012

I worked at a place that had GH owls nesting and yes, they will get pretty ticked off if you do something like climb the tree to the nest or throw rocks at it. BUT you have to get really close, ime, and owls seem to be fairly smart birds. They know you and that you live there and they are not going to be unduly concerned with normal goings on in my experience. I've never seen one attack someone, although I have had them do a few fly-bys on pets or even once or twice a person, which can startle you because they are silent and big. 99.9% of the time you won't even know they're there though.

And the owlets are ridiculously cute. Like: penguin cute. The biggest problem my old boss had with the owls was people trespassing because they wanted to see them.

Now hummingbirds are a different story. They are little flying psychos and will attack you every single time you step outside your door for months if they have a nest nearby. Nothing like having a tiny flying lunatic trying that moves so fast you can't see it trying to spear your eyes at 8am to let you know it's spring.
posted by fshgrl at 4:58 PM on April 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

I live on a wooded lot in the rural Pacific Northwest, and there are five species of owl living within earshot, including Great Horned Owls. I have never been attacked, nor have I ever heard of someone being attacked by any owl. I wouldn't want to climb a tree and stick my hand in its nest, though.

I have pet chickens, so I consider myself reasonably well-versed in the dangers of owls. Most owls are - so far as I know - a very low risk to pets during the day. (One exception being the Barred Owl, which I have seen hunting during the day.) The daytime threat to small animals is typically from hawks.

Think of it this way: hawks are daytime owls. And yet, hawk attacks on humans are... let's just say, "very rare." I've never heard of a hawk swooping out of the sky and attacking someone, but I guess it's probably happened somewhere.

For the most part, owls eat mice and snakes and rats, which is to say, they do us a great favor.

If you have small dogs or cats or pet rabbits or chickens, I wouldn't let them roam the yard at night, or during dusk and dawn. But that's a good rule all the time, not just because of your new neighbor.

If none of this relieves your concern, you can talk to a wildlife agency about possibly having it relocated. I found The South Florida Wildlife Center and Florida Wildlife Hospital, either of which should be able to put you in touch with the right folks.
posted by ErikaB at 5:14 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: This is the link to The great Horned Owl Photo. I have to delete the above link. Thank You for your interest. The babys are doing great and I wanted to give you an update to my exciting situation! Thanks for your comments and great Information!
posted by brittaincrowe at 8:20 AM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

That there's an Eastern Screech Owl, not a Great Horned Owl. Great Horned Owls are easily twice the size of Screech Owls.

Also, SO CUTE.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:49 AM on April 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, thats an Eastern Screech Owl, red phase. They are tiny little hooters, and adorable. Hell, they are smaller than most cats! You have nothing to worry about.
We used to have a family of them that lived in an oak behind the house I grew up in, and they nested in the tree for at least six generations.
posted by strixus at 10:07 AM on April 18, 2012

They are tiny little hooters, and adorable. Hell, they are smaller than most cats!

Also keep in mind that owls are almost entirely feathers. An adult Eastern Screech Owl weighs barely half a pound at max; an adult Great Horned Owl could be up to 6 lbs., still amazingly little mass for its apparent size.
posted by endless_forms at 12:51 PM on April 18, 2012

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