It began with the arrival of a smallish male great horned owl who was very closely followed by a big female. We know the male is a “he” because of his low-pitched hooting, and we know the female is a “she” because her hoot was higher pitched. Females are about 50% bigger than males, but this guy seems a lot smaller than his pursuer. He looks quite alarmed to be sharing his space with someone twice his size so we’re assuming they weren’t close friends. He took off in a hurry and Mrs Owl stayed for a couple more hoots and then followed him.
A couple of hours later two raccoons – probably siblings – arrived in the nest. They spent an hour playing and scuffling and looking at the view (which is impressive – the nest is 30 ft up in a live oak tree). Raccoons are utterly fearless climbers and very strong, but it’s nerve-wracking to watch them fooling around at such a great height; a fall would be deadly.
Lately we’ve been seeing raccoons in the owl nest almost every night. We shudder to think what might happen if a great horned owl were to land while a raccoon is up there taking a nap. It would be a shock for all concerned.