Hatch Day!

I don’t have TV. Well technically I own a TV, and I have Netflix but no cable. Sometimes the topic comes up in conversation and people get confused and act like I’m missing out on something. But they don’t realize: I have something better than TV. I have bird cams.

My love affair with bird cams began a little over a year ago. I was on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s web page (as I frequently am) and discovered a whole page of them. Eventually I ended up watching most of them (as you know Laysan Albatross cam changed my life for the better), but at that time I was enthralled by the Great-horned Owl cam.

I love owls. Especially Great-horned Owls. They are in my top 5 of all-time favorite birds. So as you can probably guess, I have spent many many hours since then watching owl cam (I’m watching right now!)

The cam I watch is the Savannah Owls Landings Cam from Skidaway Island
Audubon in Georgia. The nest being filmed was originally a bald eagle nest but in December 2014 Great-Horned Owls (GHO) showed up instead. Momma owl (that’s my nickname for her, she obviously doesn’t have a name) laid her first egg on January 1, 2015 and her second egg a few days later. On February 3 and February 6 the 2 chicks hatched and the real fun began. It was amazing to watch the owlets grow up and fledge successfully.

2-16 beautiful
Momma is beautiful! (Image via SavannahOwls Twitter)

This year us cam viewers were lucky because the owls showed up again. We can’t tell if it’s the same pair but it is possible. This year Momma laid her first egg on January 23 and the second egg on January 26. GHO eggs take 30-37 days to incubate, so right now we are in the hatching window. Yesterday (2/24) the first egg started pipping. Pipping is when a chick uses their egg tooth (a small bump on the  top of their beak) to break open the egg. The resulting crack is the “pip”. The chick will fully emerge from the egg within a 24-hour period.

2-24 pip in progress
Pip in progress (Image by Landings Bird Cam via their Twitter page)

When I put GHO cam on this morning there was fantastic news: the first chick hatched over night! Momma left the nest briefly around 4:45am when the chick was spotted. GHO chicks have a layer of white down feathers that are wet upon emergence. They are limp and can’t raise their heads on the first day. They will start to raise their heads by day 3 and open their eyes after 9-11 days. Momma has been feeding the chick. Withing a few days its sibling should be hatching too. We were also lucky enough to see Dad owl stop by to deliver food. The male owl doesn’t spend much time at the nest, but he does roost in a nearby tree. He will deliver food directly to the nest occasionally, but he usually leaves prey in a separate spot and calls to Momma.

2-25 Momma and chick #1
Momma keeps owlet #1 warm (Image by SavannahOwls via their Twitter page)
2-25 Dad owl with prey
Dad owl (left) brings Momma and owlet some prey (Image by BeccaJane via Twitter)

I’m so happy that the egg finally hatched. I’m looking forward to the second egg hatching which will hopefully be by the end of the weekend. If you never watching Great-horned Owl camyou check it out (you will probably fall in love with it too!). Watching wild animals being born and develop is a fascinating and life-changing experience that you normally wouldn’t be able to see without bird cams. Here’s the link:

Landings Savannah Great-horned Owl Cam

You can also watch a variety of other bird cams at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website:

Cornell Lab Bird Cams homepage

Now that’s reality TV that’s worth watching!

Author: BirdNation

I am an avid birder, teacher, and nature lover. I primarily go birding in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but love to travel. I am currently a biology student with interests in conservation biology, ornithology, and environmental sciences. My dream is to go birding in all 50 states.

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