Naperville Animal Control has been receiving reports since early December about a Great Horned Owl swooping at small dogs and people near Downtown Naperville.
A Note from Animal Control about Great Horned Owls:
Since early December, Naperville Animal Control has received…
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County‘s Stephanie Touzalin said this behavior is likely the bird defending its nest during nesting season.
“Great Horned Owls are large birds and can be quite aggressive defending their nest,” she said. “This time of year doesn’t strike us as a great time for nesting season but they have begun that already. They set up their territories in the fall and then they start breeding and they would be sitting on eggs right now. So pretty much from when their eggs are laid until the young leave the nest, they can be a bit more on edge or defensive of the territory and the babies.”
The Great Horned Owl is a federally-protected animal, which means they can’t be removed from the area, but once the nesting season ends, the owls will become less aggressive.
And while the birds likely won’t be able to pick up and carry off anything more than five pounds, they can still cause damage if they feel threatened.
“If that threat were to keep coming and they felt it was big enough they would probably swoop and try to use their feet to knock into something,” said Touzalin. “They could potentially cause damage with their talons – they’re very strong and very sharp. But most cases it’s just trying to chase you off.”
Touzalin said it’s normal for these owls to live near humans, and they’re about as common as Red-Tailed Hawks.
“Generally I would say enjoy them,” she said. “Enjoy hearing them hoot or catching a glimpse of one… It is temporary so we just need to give them time to feel safe in their environment and appreciate the role they play in our habitat – helping keep numbers of smaller creatures down.”
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
Header image courtesy of Bertrand Leclercq.
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