Great Horned Owl
The most common owl in North America, the Great Horned Owl, thrives equally in deserts, wetlands, forests, grasslands, backyards, and cities. It is a powerful carnivorous apex predator who can take down creatures larger than itself, and it also dines on smaller fare, including smaller raptors.
The horns are actually feathers that stand up. Its keen eyesight and hearing are special senses that make this owl such a fierce and successful predator. The owl’s eyes don’t move in their sockets. Instead, the owl swivels its head more than 180 degrees to look in any direction. The Great Horned Owls are most active at night and are often perched at the fork of large tree branches in the daytime to sleep. They are one of the earliest nesters whose hatchlings must endure some very cold temperatures at the tail end of winter.
A rare visitor to the Denver area, the Golden-crowned Sparrow is common in weedy lowland shrubs and city edges of the Pacific coast during winter. In the summer, it vanishes into the tundra and shrublands of western Canada and Alaska.
The bird seen in April 2020, along Sand Creek Greenway north of Central Park, was an adult in breeding plumage, with the distinctive golden crown flanked by black stripes. The birds seen in Bluff Lake Nature Center in November 2021 appears to be a juvenile where the golden crown is less conspicuous and colorful. At both sightings, the Golden-crowned sparrow was seen in the company of White-crowned sparrows, which are common in Denver.
Bird Walks Jan. 1 and Feb. 5, 8 –10am. Join George Ho and other bird experts for a free guided walk around Bluff Lake. All are welcome. Bring your own binoculars or borrowed ones will be available. 11255 MLK Blvd. BluffLake.org. Search FrontPorchNE.com for “Bird Sightings” to see all the past bird stories and photos from George Ho.