Great Horned Owl Fight

I heard a crash and thud this evening like falling furniture but saw the cats weren’t the cause.  After a minute or so there was another thump and thud and the sound of an owl hooting.  So I grabbed my camera and went upstairs to the patio outside the bedroom, expecting maybe to see an owl going at the plastic owl on the patio. (The fake owl is there to keep away small birds that would otherwise fall prey to Pan as he lies in wait every morning.)

Not something you see everyday…

However, what I found was two great horned owls in a vicious brawl on the patio floor.  Pan and I watched from behind the door as they kept at it for some ten minutes or so, despite me turning on the porch light, making noise and cracking open the door to get a better look.  After nearly ten minutes of this, and not wanting to see how far this would eventually go, I pounded on the glass to drive them off.  Now I’m imagining that one of these owls was a newcomer trying to encroach on my neighborhood owl’s plastic “mate” on my porch.

It’s not unusual for us to see or hear owls around the house here in Santa Cruz, including perched on my bedroom roof but I’ve never captured decent video or photos of them.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t notice my auto-focus was disabled on my camera until five minutes into filming this brawl.)

Before posting, I looked online to see if this vicious-looking fight is something great horned owls commonly do.  I found that they are territorial but confrontations are usually in the form of sounding vocalizations and spreading wings before escalating further.  However, it sounds like they are known to sometimes go so far as to kill each other in territorial conflicts.  Would love to read comments on this encounter from any well-informed folk.

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