London photographer tracks Great Horned Owl babies until they take flight


Photographer and wildlife enthusiast Mary Lou Roberts of London, Ont., documented the Great Horned Owlets until they fledged.

Early last month, London, Ont. wildlife enthusiast and amateur photographer Mary Lou Roberts headed out the door with her superzoom camera.

"I was alerted to a murder of crows and there was at least 50 of them making a ruckus up on a hill," she said. "So I went up to investigate and there was an owl sitting there, and I carried on a bit and came across a nest."

Great Horned Owl fledglings Olive and Olivia, as named by photographer Mary Lou Roberts of London, Ont.(Mary Lou Roberts)

A few days later, when Roberts returned, she discovered two owlets.

"I kept going daily. I got to witness the mom feeding the babies and how they interacted," said Roberts who visited and photographed the birds from March 8 until the owlets fledged on April 20.

Mary Lou Rogers started taking photos more seriously three years ago when she got a superzoom camera(Twitter)

"It was kind of sad," she admitted. "You get kind of connected and you get to see the intimacy between the adults and the babies. The adult would clean the baby's face. And yeah, it was really interesting to watch."

Roberts named the babies Oliver and Olivia.

Roberts visited the birds at sunrise and stayed each day for an hour or two, never publicly revealing the location for fear of attracting too many onlookers.

According to the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Great Horned Owls are one of Canada's most common large birds of prey. They get their name from their large size and prominent ear tufts that resemble horns.

Great Horned Owls hunt at night and mainly prey on medium-sized mammals and birds. They are the second-largest owl in Canada next to the Snowy Owl, which has also been spotted in the London area.


Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 15 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna.

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