Backyard Owling

There’s nothing like discovering amazing birds in your own backyard and my “backyard” is Golden Gate Park. And seeing four owls, in the daylight, is even better.

Traditionally great horned owls have nested in the crook of a pine across the street from the Bison Paddock. This nesting tree, and the owlets in, it have featured in a few sketches in the past.

A sketch  of the same nest but with different owlets on January 19, 2015.

So on a very warm May afternoon, I headed out to the park with my scope, paints, and sketch book. I focused my scope on two owlets in the crook of the pine. Another owlet was branching out and perched on a limb above the nest.

The owls seemed to be nesting a little late in this year, perhaps because of our record Northern Californian rainfall had something to do with the timing. Great horned owls don’t build their own nests, instead they might reuse hawk or crow nests or use caves or crooks in trees as was the case with the paddock owls.


A pre-painting sketch of the great horned owlets.

Which sketching, I was entertained by a black phoebe that would fly in to a puddle on the jogging path, collect some mud in it’s beak and fly off towards the paddock to continue work on it’s mud-cupped nest.

A Golden Gate Park owlet thinking about branching out. Note the whitewash on the rim of the nest. It’s a sure sign of owl activity.

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