Photographer finds nest with owlets

Staff writer

Strange feathery faces may not be noticed to those driving down U.S. 50, but with their vision they certainly see everyone.

A nest of great horned owlets reside about a mile west of Florence in a sycamore tree off U.S. 50 and near the railroad tracks. Phoebe Janzen stumbled upon the nest during one of her many photography excursions during the winter and started monitoring the nest.

At first, she had no idea what type of bird built the nest so she kept an eye on it for the next few months.

One spring day she noticed movement in the nest and a great horned owl flew away, frightened by Janzen’s approach.

She has managed to get photos of the owlets, but has yet to be sly enough to get the mom at the nest. She believes there are two owlets.

When Janzen started photographing the nest, it was very difficult because she had just had torn tendons in her ankle. In order to get photos of the owlets she had to trek along a steep incline and watch for trains. Once at the location she had to wait for awhile before the chicks would peak out of the nest.

She anticipates the owlets will be leaving the nest soon because of their adult feathers and rapid growth over the past three weeks.

According to the Great Plains Nature Center, the great horned owl is the largest owl that lives year round in Kansas and is believed to be the most powerful bird of prey. Adult owls weigh around 3 to 3½ lbs. and have a 5-foot wingspan.

The owlets will feed on large rodents and rabbits, and even the occasional skunk.

Horned owls lay two to three eggs in late January. After 28 days the eggs hatch, and after about 35 days the owlets leave the nest, but may be cared for by the adults for up to five months.

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