In photos: Owlets learn to fly and hunt in Delta, B.C.
Three young owls on high alert as an eagle flies overhead in Delta, B.C. (Submitted/Jon Lavoie)
VANCOUVER -- For the past six weeks, Delta, B.C. resident Jon Lavoie has been watching a family of great horned owls feed, grow and learn to hunt, and he's captured the fine feathered family in a series of stunning photos.
"Initially, the owlets would only stick their head out of the nest for a short while before crawling back into the nest," Lavoie told CTV News Vancouver.
"They're very well camouflaged with Mom always standing guard while the dad searched for food but also stood guard on a nearby tree watching for predators like the eagle who would love to whisk away an owlet or two for a quick snack."
Tiny owl chicks peek out of their nest. (Submitted/Jon Lavoie)
Soon, the owlets were ready to emerge from the nest and stretch their wings, Lavoie said. The father owl would start hooting, a signal to the young owls it was relatively safe to come out of their nest. First, they would fly just a short distance, with Mom by their side. A few weeks later, Lavoie observed them flying to a tree a bit farther away.
Owlets sit on a branch near their nesting tree. (Submitted/Jon Lavoie)
"The owlets stuck together, always flying to the same tree as one another," Lavoie said. "They often snuggled up to one another, possibly to stay warm and safe."
As the owlets have practised flying, they've also learned to hunt, he said.
A male owl flies off to hunt for food or ward off predators. (Submitted/Jon Lavoie)
"A fellow photographer has actually seen a male owl drop a rat in the field so the owlet can swoop in and learn to pick it up," Lavoie said.
A thrill for Lavoie was the chance to get an elusive shot of the male adult owl carrying a dead rat in its beak, preparing to share the tasty morsel with the owlets.
A male owl holds a rat he's caught to feed to his owlets. (Submitted/Jon Lavoie)
"I'm an early bird so I've been fortunate in capturing some of these shots," Lavoie said.
Lavoie, a retired Vancouver police officer, previously shared his photos of a short-eared owl in flight with CTV News Vancouver.