Your eyes are not deceiving you - that is a great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)... in our eagle nest! As none of Ohio's resident owl species build their own nests, this isn't a total surprise. Instead, during the winter, these owls take over abandoned tree cavities or old nests created by other birds. Great horned owls are notorious for taking over red-tailed hawk, great blue heron and bald eagle nests. During the day, the female owl is the only one that can be seen, but the male roosts nearby. At night, he'll bring food so that she can continue to stay on the nest, keeping the eggs warm. The size of the clutch can range anywhere from 1-4 eggs. After about five weeks of constant sitting, the eggs will hatch, and the owlets will emerge. Over the course of 40 days, they will grow from small, white puffballs to the caramel- and brown-colored owl we know and love.
With the owls nesting in this location, the eagle pair will likely not use this space this year. While they may return in future years (as great horned owls only use a nest once), for now it is possible that they have found a new location.
Stop by Rocky River Nature Center
if you have any questions or would like to learn more information.