And Now for Something Completely Different!

April 16, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

So for those of you who aren’t close enough to come out and experience Skidaway Island for yourself, I thought it might be interesting to see a bit more of the place than is visible through our two cameras. As you know, the Owl Cam is a project of Skidaway Audubon, in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and a number of other sponsors. One of the most important sponsors is The Landings Club, who owns the land and the tree that the owls nest is located in, and graciously allows us access, and has assisted us in installing and maintaining the cameras. Recently, they decided they should update their golf marketing video, and got a helicopter in to get some new footage.

Recognizing that this six minute video is all about golf, and will feel like marketing material (it is!), I urge you to watch it anyway – it’s a beautiful introduction to what the island really looks like from the Owls-eye view. There’s even a couple of snippets of the golf hole where the owl’s nest is located! And you should know that through a cooperative effort between Skidaway Audubon and The Landings Club, all six courses here on the island have been certified under the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, which means that hundreds of acres of land that might otherwise be manicured turf are left natural to provide habitat for the web of life that inhabits our island – and at the apex of that web are our Great Horned Owls!

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 12.29.34 PMCheck out the video below.

I couldn’t help but point out that at 5:55 into the movie, we see 9 year old Mary Miller driving the golf ball. In the Masters/USGA/PGA Drive, Chip and Putt* competition at Augusta National as prelude to the 2016 Masters Tournament, Mary came in second in the girls’ 7-9 year old category. As you can see over at the right, only a half point separated first and second place! It’s an inspiration to see her on the range, and one of the wonderful things about this island is seeing folks of all ages excelling at so many things. Now please enjoy this video, and I promise the next post will be all about those branching owlets!

The Landings Club Golf Highlights from The Landings Club on Vimeo.


  • About the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship – A joint initiative founded in 2013 by the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and The PGA of America, the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a free nationwide junior golf development competition aimed at growing the game by focusing on the three fundamental skills employed in golf. By tapping the creative and competitive spirit of girls and boys ages 7-15, the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship provides aspiring junior golfers an opportunity to play with their peers in qualifiers around the country. Participants who advance through local, sub-regional and regional qualifying in each age/gender category earn a place in the National Finals, which is conducted at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the Masters Tournament and is broadcast live by Golf Channel.

What’s Next for our Nestlings??

April 4, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 3.22.13 PMIt’s April 4th, 2016. Last year, the first gretgg was laid last year on January 1, and this year the first egg was laid on January 23. To see the details and a comparison of the two years, go to our education page and click the milestones tab to keep track of this, but here’s a snapshot what may be ahead:

Last year, our first owlet began branching (moving out of the nest onto limbs, and then usually “flying” back down to the nest) last year 77 days after the egg was laid. If the exact same trend follows this year, the first owlet will be branching about April 9th. But there’s a very good possibility that these birds will be experimenting out on the branches a few days earlier.

Also, note in that milestones tab that the birds left the nest only about 10 days after beginning branching, so we all need to keep a close eye on these little guys – they grow up so fast!! Here they are this afternoon sunning and stretching in the beautiful sunshine. They might begin branching within a week or so!!

The white Great Egret feathers in the nest are a reminder of the fact that it’s a very tough world out there. There is a Great Egret rookery less than a mile from the nest. The egrets congregate in the rookery so that they can collectively protect themselves and their young while nesting.

The Great Horned Owl is an apex predator, which means that they are at the top of the food chain. There are birds (the Bald Eagle, for one) that could beat them in a fight, but in general, other birds do not hunt the GHO – the Owls are too powerful and too tough for the other bird to be willing to risk their own life by being injured in a fight.

Our nestlings aren’t yet at the level of top predator, however, and even after they leave the nest, the parents will stay in the vicinity for several months, showing them the ropes and teaching them to hunt on their own. Last year, we could see them in the surrounding trees for weeks after fledging. So stay tuned – the best part of the show is on the air for the next two or three weeks!!!

Owlets Sunning 2016-04-04 at 1.33.43 PM

Dad Brings a Lunch Snack

March 18, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

The owlets have been chowing down on rats pretty often for the last few days (although that squirrel three days ago was a welcome addition!). So today Dad stops by around 1:30 with a tasty snake. Looks like he got the first half, and Mom will see to it that the kids will get the rest. Notice the sharp images from Cam2 the approach cam. Here’s 5 pictures of the arrival, handoff, and departure for more hunting.

Note you can click on any of the pictures to see a high resolution image. Try it!

2016-03-18 at 1.33 PM Dad brings food 1   2016-03-18 at 1.33 PM Dad brings food 2   2016-03-18 at 1.33 PM Dad brings food 3   2016-03-18 at 1.33 PM Dad brings food 4   2016-03-18 at 1.33 PM Dad brings food 5

The Owlets are really growing!

March 17, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

It’s St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah! The Owlets are getting so big, and they’re hungry all the time. Mom brought food at around 5:00 and the owlets got to eat their fill, but she’s been gone for a while now and we get to see the owlets show off their wings with all their growing feathers. When will they start exploring the branches and trying these new wings? Stay tuned!

Did you bring us something, Mom?

March 9, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

Today at about 4:45 am, a favorite hunting and feeding time for the owls, Mom jumps off the nest for 8 minutes and returns with a nice rat. The two owlets are hungry all the time, and the big one tries to swallow the rat whole, but Mom intervenes. These birds are growing fast!!


Owlets Feast This Morning!

March 7, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

About 6:00 on March 7th Mom heard Dad approaching and hopped off the nest for exactly one minute. She apparently rendezvoused with Dad and picked up a fresh meal for the owlets.

The two owlets, now 8 and 11 days old, made short work of the meal. The larger seemed to get the lion’s share, but Mom made sure that both got what they needed. They eat like teenagers! In particular, notice what a huge piece of the prey that the larger owlet was able to wolf down near the end of the film. Even though “lion’s share” and “wolf down” may seem the wrong species (not to mention genus!), the Great Horned Owl is often called the Tiger Owl, partly due to its coloration but even moreso for its fearsomeness as a hunter!

Breakfast in Bed (with Heated Down Comforter)!

March 2, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

The owlet has a big biteMom carefully feeds an owletMom’s carefully passing pieces of food to one of the Owlets, who promptly drops it. She picks it up and offers it again and finally the owlet swallows it.






Note there’s plenty of prey in the nest, but it’s been going fast. Mom needs plenty of food to keep the owlets warm, and they are growing fast and need that fuel!







Two Owlets Being Fed





Snuggled next to Mom’s brood patch, they’ve got their own heated down comforter to keep them toasty…


The Pantry’s Full, The Owlets are Growing

March 1, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 6.48.53 AMMom took a quick break at around 6:00 this morning, giving us a great view of the two owlets. They are doing the usual slow motion wrestling match, and staying close to each other for warmth.

Dad’s been bringing prey to neighboring trees so that Mom can retrieve it without being gone too long. The owlets were just over an ounce in weight when they hatched, and they have started gaining a little over an ounce a day. If all goes well, by the end of the first month they will weigh in the neighborhood of 2 pounds each! They are going to need lots of food to gain all that weight, and so far it looks like they will have all they can eat!

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 6.45.44 AM

Finally Some Food!

February 29, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 6.42.48 PMWell, it was a long wait for the new owlet to have its first meal since hatching!

The hatch was sometime very early on Sunday morning, but Mom kept the new owlet and its sibling covered and warm through the night and then didn’t have any prey in the nest during the day.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 9.02.51 PM





Finally about two hours after dark on Sunday, Dad brought a rat and stashed it in an adjacent tree.  Mom hopped out of the nest to quickly retrieve it.








Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 7.36.39 AMThen overnight Dad kept bringing more food and this morning Mom and the owlets have a very full pantry.








Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 7.37.07 AM


Notice how carefully Mom steps around the owlets – she has her huge talons folded
completely back so her footprint is now much smaller AND much less sharp!



The DVR “Loopback” is Back!

February 26, 2016 by Rick Cunningham

You should notice that the camera menu above the main video window has changed. There are now entries for the view from Cams 1 & 2, DVR’s for Cams 1 & 2 and Time-Lapse Videos for Cams 1 & 2. Please let us know if there are any problems with this new capability!


Cam1 Cam2 Cam1 DVR Cam2 DVR Cam1 TL Cam2 TL


And check out this Cheeky Squirrel from yesterday afternoon. It was the owlet’s third feeding on his hatch day, and this squirrel was very curious about what was going on. You have to ask yourself what that squirrel was thinking as it watched mom feeding the owlet. The squirrel had better hope the next visit to the GHOW nest is not a one way trip!

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