Video: Great Horned Owls Nesting Above Certified ACSP for Golf Courses

From Cornell Lab Bird Cams:

Look who’s hanging out at the vacant nest in Savannah, Georgia! This pair of Great Horned Owls has been frequenting the nest site for several months, but last night they dropped by for an extended visit (lasting over an hour) that included both nest maintenance and copulation. This could be a sign that the owls are interested in using this nest site as their home for the upcoming breeding season, which is just around the corner. Prior to the Ospreys taking up residence at this location, Great Horned Owls nested in an adjacent tree starting in January of 2015 and 2016. Keep watching to see if the owls continue their nighttime visits at the nest.

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During the Fall of 2014, a pair of Great Horned Owls began frequenting an abandoned Bald Eagle nest adjacent to a protected, nutrient-rich salt marsh along the Georgia coast. This nest sat nearly 80′ above one of the six Audubon International Certified golf courses at The Landings, on Skidaway Island, near Savannah, Georgia. Over the course of 2015 and 2016, a pair of owls successfully fledged four owlets from the site, but they did not return to breed in 2017.

Instead, a pair of Ospreys began renovating the nest and committed to breeding at the same site from 2017 to 2019, when the dead tree that held the nest was removed due to being designated as a falling hazard. A new nest site was erected in an adjacent tree in the fall of 2019, and the Ospreys were quick to take up residence at the new site in 2020.

Ospreys are consummate fishing birds, and this pair fishes primarily from the nearby salt marsh, ponds, and waterways. They use their 6–7 foot wingspans to soar above the water, looking for fish, then diving as deep as 3 feet for shallow-swimming prey. Adult Ospreys usually weigh 3–4 pounds, and they can carry prey up to 50 percent of their own weight. Ospreys can live up to 25 years, and they typically lay 1–4 eggs in a clutch.

Most Osprey pairs are monogamous, staying paired across seasons and beginning nesting soon after each returns from a long migration. Both sexes incubate the eggs. The female sits for the majority of the time (including throughout the night) while the male provisions her with fish. After the eggs hatch, the male continues to bring fish to the nest; the female exclusively broods the young and dissects their meals for about a month after hatching. Later on, when the chicks no longer require her protection and their appetite for fish increases, she will leave the nest and go fishing.