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A Special Morning In The Pine Tree

Recently I spent the morning with my favorite little fuzz ball.  It was somewhat of a cloudy day but thankfully not a rainy day, well, right up until the end.  When I arrived there was my "girl" way up high in the pine tree, all alone.  When she saw me coming, she got behind the pine needle branch and there she kept her eye on me, hoping I couldn't see her.  You know, by this time though, I think both her and the Mom know me and the sound of my car. They still keep a sharp eye on me but after spending the morning with them this time, they are becoming more comfortable with my visits and the beeping of my camera.  I did tell you that they have very good eye sight and very good hearing.  They can actually hear their prey before they ever see it. So on this day, we just hung out and honestly, it was one of the best mornings I've had in a very long time. That baby is so cute and today she was in the mood to entertain, instead of just sitting...So there she is, up above, just waiting. Waiting for her Mom to come back, hopefully with a bit of lunch.

I wanted to give you more of a visual of where these two are living.  In order to get the owls with any magnification, I use a 150-500 lens.  I'm putting that on the Canon 7D MK11..with a crop factor.  I mostly shoot at 500 in order to get some nice close ups but for this photo, so that you could get some idea how big this pine tree is, I had the camera set at 150.  I wish I had gotten a shot of the entire tree so you could see how high up she is but I'm not even sure if my lens would take it all in...Maybe next time I'll bring a wide angle and get that shot.  For today though, you can see that the tree is wide, actually much wider than this, which I'll show you more of later.  Unfortunately I have never seen the baby come out or go into the nest. She is always on the branch when I arrive. Some days when I go, neither are there and because this is private property, I don't hang around.  So, this was her spot on this morning.  If you look above her and to the right you will see the nest.  It is quite large and when she is in it, I cannot see her at all.  It's the big brown blob sitting inside that circle of light, but it is also sheltered from the weather from above.  I'm pretty sure she is still walking the branches to get down to her limbs..but I don't really know for sure.  She could be practicing her flying a bit.

So there I am watching the baby, holding that big ass lens and across my right shoulder the Mom comes flying by...before I could move the lens and get to the 150 point on the lens, she had glided into that tree like a kid sliding into home base..It happened so fast, I never had a chance.  Look at her, all puffed out, thinking in her "owl way"..she can't catch me flying.  It's true, I have yet to get a photo of her flying..I did get the feathers all puffed out though.  I have never seen that before.  Now notice where she is standing on that branch.  It is quite a ways from where the baby is and she is right under the nest. Also she is very close to a bump in the branch which will become significant soon.  I wondered why she didn't go stand next to the baby but that became very clear later also.  I think she is so beautiful. 

This was the best part. This is the second year that I have watched and photographed a baby owlet.  Until this day, I had never seen the little one move.  She could stand on the branch for hours and just watch me. In the beginning she stays very close to the Mom, now the Mom is at the other end of the branch..My heart was in my mouth as I saw her slowly start to move towards her Mom..please little one, don't fall. Wings up a bit, I'm assuming for balance and off she went...

Lifting one little claw at a time, all the way over to her Mom..I was encouraging her the entire time...cheering her on like I do with the boys when they are learning something new...I was this little one's grandmother for a few moments in time..and I was so awe inspired by her bravery and courage.

Finally, she reaches her Mom...but notice where the Mom is now.  She has taken two steps to the right and lowered herself on the branch..she is now eye level with the little one. I was encouraging her but so was her Mom.  Standing so far away from the baby when she landed, forced the baby to walk, moving down on the branch now had a different meaning...

This is one of my favorite photo's of the two of them together..right after the baby reached the Mom..and the Mom knew she was safe, they both turned to me and posed, their very best pose so far.  Bright eyed and strong, standing side by side, saying "we are o.k."  thank you for being here to support us.  O.K. that is probably not what they were thinking, but this is my story and that's the version of it that I some way though, they did acknowledge that fact that they were not afraid of my presence or the click of my camera anymore...and decided to do what they had to do without worry.

Now that the baby was safe, the Mom took a nap.  Not a long nap but I could tell she was exhausted..The baby was patient for awhile but not long enough...when at rest I noticed the Mom's ears fell down and rested with her.  When alert, her ears are always up.  These are the things I notice when I upload my photo's.  Such a joy to view these on the big screen after being with them.  I notice the little things once they are uploaded and I smile each time I discover something new about them.

The baby has been patient long she moves two steps to the right and starts to snuggle her Mom.  I swear she was giving kisses and the Mom ever so slowly, opened her eyes...who can really resist a baby snuggle and a little nip...

Fully awake now...I know why the Mom was so tired.  She had been hunting for the little ones lunch..there were photo's before this of course but I can't post them all.  The hunting process to my knowledge is, the Mom catches the prey, digest it and then regurgitates it to feed the baby.  This is what is happing here. When I enlarge this photo on my computer, I can clearly see the Mom's mouth open and the babies little beak inside the Mom's mouth.  It was fascinating to watch.  To me, this was the truth telling moment, that they were no longer afraid of my presence and did not have to keep a sharp eye on me every moment. This was the perfect Mothering Moment, that I have talked about so many times before in some of my other post. That Mom knew what she had to do for the little one and so she fed her.  Mothering moments in the wild are powerful. I am so full of gratitude for all the times I have been privileged to witness these tender moments. I add this one to my list now.  It explains so much how the bonds of Motherhood are so strange and instinctual and universal.  Nature is a testament to that.

Here's another thing that has no boundaries between the families in nature and our human families.  After spending a fair amount of time feeding the baby, once again the Mom is tired.  i swear that baby is so big now that she must have spent a good portion of the night hunting for her.  The Mom's tired, the baby is full and has lots of new what does she do...she harasses her Mom.  In this photo, she picking on the Mom's feathers and just being a brat...LOL...

Look at her pulling on her Mom's ear...I honestly had the best day with these two.  The baby was out to torture the Mom...but she was really just playing. I got the connection between the little one and little kids who just keep at their Mom's until the Mom gives in or moves on...poor Mom, one eye open, one eye closed...but who can sleep with someone biting on your ear...made my day..

So this Mom did what any self-respecting Mom would do and she moved away. Now the little one had to figure out how to get to her again...wings out..a first for this little one while I was there...Awesome, and she slowly moved down the branch to where her Mom was just standing..

Then this happened. Mom is deep in sleep.  The baby checks her out and maybe figures if she spreads her wings that will rattle the Mom...Well it didn't.  It did rattle me though.  Please baby don't attempt to fly while your Mom's asleep.  She wouldn't want to miss this great event if it were your first time...I didn't want to miss it either...but by now I had been there for many hours.  I have so many wonderful photo's from this day...more that I will share going forward.  More about this baby spreading her wings.  I did not get to see the baby fly.  That would have been the frosting on the cake. I do love that look on the babies face though..Like, wake up Mom.  I need to play or fly...

You know what I took away from this wonderful day with Mother Nature and all these Mothering Moments. Nature takes time.  Whether your going for a walk in the woods, or watching a family grow up in a pine tree. If we want to take it all in, we have to give it the time it deserves.  That's how we learn.  That's how we are amazed and that's how we know all is right with the world.  Not watching TV..not popping in for a few minutes.  It takes time.  I am so enriched by my time in the woods and in someone yards who shared her pine tree with me.  My friend gave me a gift by letting me take up space whenever I wanted to.  I took that time and I got lucky, because I stayed. I could have grabbed a couple of shots and left but then, look at what I would have missed. This was the highlight of my spring.  The flowers will come, the sun will shine, the ocean with it waves will be waiting for me..babies don't wait.  Babies are babies for such a short time. I knew I couldn't miss this...because who knows when I'll get another chance at seeing this little miracle of life happen again...many never get to see it at all.  So I say to you...take the time, be patient with your own little ones and with moments spent in nature.  You will always have the memories...but first, you have to make them...

I hope your enjoyed this little romp in the Pine Tree today.  I know it's a longer post than usual but what could I have left out....nothing my friends, absolutely nothing...

"The future will belong to the nature-smart-those individuals, businesses, and political leaders who develop understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need."  Richard Louv

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Reader Comments (11)

Awwww, Cheryl, they are just precious, and how fortunate you are to have photographed them!

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Gordon

Oh my, I was on the edge of my seat with each word and photo!
I don't know why I've always thought one could only see owls at night!
I know I hear them, but have only ever seen two . . . one white snowy owl far in the distance, on the way to Michigan,
and another around the corner on a telephone wire. But never anything like this showing, so I am beyond thrilled to have followed along, knowing that you were in your ecstasy as you spent this treasured time with them. I LOVE how you compared your feelings with nature to our own! Tomorrow we will go help our youngest (almost 40), move into her first house! Yes, moments like these are just indescribable! Again, thanks for your heartfelt descriptions and unbelievable captures.
I'm so glad you give such a "hoot" about what's really important in life! xox Antoinette xox

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAntoinette

Thank you Lisa...yes, they were precious...I just found out today that they are no longer there...the baby has learned to fly...I'm so sad not to see her anymore...I was very fortunate for the time I did get to spend with them though.

May 4, 2017 | Registered CommenterCheryl Crotty

Oh Antoinette have fun while helping your daugther many ways to have mothering moments...we just have to recognize that is what they are. Yes, quite incredible to spend a few days with these little creatures...I think they were out in the day becasue they like the sunshine...but mostly they do hunt at night, unless of course if it rains for a few days and then they can't fly so when their wings dry they are forced to hunt in the day...also during the day is when the Mom teaches the baby how to walk the branch and eventually fly from tree to tree before flying off for long distances. These owls live in a nest...burrowing owls live in the ground and so they probably stayed hidden more than these Great Horned Owls...Thanks for visiting and for coming along to see the owls...xoxo

May 4, 2017 | Registered CommenterCheryl Crotty

What a gift to be able to watch this little one grow up! Thank you for sharing it with all of us. I've seen a few owls, and have heard a few more, but have never had the privilege of seeing a nest or a baby owl. What a treasure!

May 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLeón

Thank you Leon. This really was a gift. The Mom and baby are gone now. It doesn't take them long to get used to flying. I sure do miss them. Hopefully they will come back again next year. Have a great week ahead.

May 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

Such sweet and wonderful images. The baby is so fluffy. I can't imagine having a toddler who is as big as I am! It is no wonder mom needed a nap. Wouldn't it be something if you got photographs of the baby's first flight?

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle B

Oh my goodness! This is priceless and they are both beautiful! As you said, that one pose is just perfect. So nice you have this kind of nature close by and can spend the morning in quietness, enjoying them, and stealing photo shots of them.

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly

Those photos are amazing!!! I am so envious of you getting to experience all that!

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpam

Thank you Michelle..I was trying to get the baby or the Mom in flight but that didn't happen...Now I have learned that the baby has indeed flown away, along with the Mom...perhaps I will see the Mom again next year with a new baby...I certainly hope so. Thanks always for stopping by.

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl c.

Thank you Beverly for stopping by...I appreciate your comment even though you are struggling a bit with your eye...I am fortunate to live in an area that both has these kinds of woods near-by but also good access to the highway...You know by now how much I love being in the woods and visiting all who live there. This was really a special treat this year. The baby was really animated and the Mom very tolerant. The baby has flown away now...I pray he stays safe...enjoy your resting go take a nap...xo

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl c.

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