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The Villages
Monday, December 6, 2021

Baby owlet’s dramatic fall worries fans at Fenney Nature Trail

It was a beautiful day at the Fenney Nature Trail. Regulars at Fenney, walkers, residents and visitors, and many local photographers were gathered on and around the boardwalk as word spread that the resident pair of Barred Owls had revealed their owlets for the first time.

A group of people were watching the Barred Owl and Owlets before fall.
A group of people were watching the Barred Owls and owlets before the fall.

The small white balls of fur were high in the same tree that owlets had been hatched in previous years. Lots of oohhs and aahhs could be heard from the curious humans as the beautiful owlets carefully climbed from limb to limb high in the tree and became visible to the large gathering of onlookers.

Barred Owls Revealing Owlets For First Time At Fenney Nature Trail
The Barred Owls revealed the owlets for the first time Monday at the Fenney Nature Trail.

On the boardwalk lots of hands extended in the air with fingers pointing out the little fur balls to new onlookers. Cameras with small, medium, and very long lenses (some resting on tripods) could be seen pointed toward the beautiful owlets, as mom owl sat in a tree nearby watching. Then it happened!  One of the owlets misstepped and could be seen tumbling through the air toward the upper spring, sometimes occupied by the resident alligator. The boardwalk at Fenney has a fence about 4-5 feet high, on each side.

Photographers and onlookers outside the boardwalk could be seen climbing the fence to see the fate of this poor little gal, fearing it had landed in the water.

All of a sudden, they heard, “There she is!”

Photographer Keith Boyle captured this photo of the owlet as it caught its balance on a small branch.
Photographer Keith Boyle captured this photo of the owlet as it caught its balance on a small branch.

Somehow, it had caught onto a branch that was about 3 feet above the water. She was dangling upside down from this branch, tiny talons clutching the little branch that may have saved her life.

“How is she going to get out of there?”

“How are we going to save her?”

Things were being discussed like let’s get a long branch to reach her. She was out about 6 feet from shore. Then somehow the little one pulled itself up from her upside position to standing on this very small branch. Cheers, and a round of applause, erupted from the shocked onlookers. But is wasn’t over. Somehow she needed to get back up in the tree, and she is not old enough to fly.  Darkness was falling fast as she struggled to gingerly get from one branch to another, each time to the delight of cheering fans. It then got a couple branches up and headed out to the end of a very small branch. It was a dead-end branch and the branch was bending over under the very light weight of the owlet. Darkness enshrouded the area and everyone wished it luck as they departed, not knowing the fate of this beautiful little creature alone in the dark stuck on a branch.

The owlet Tuesday morning was partially back up in the tree.
The owlet Tuesday morning was partially back up in the tree.

A return to the nature trail just before sunrise Tuesday found the usuals were there with cameras all set up waiting to find out the fate of the beautiful little creature. To their pleasure the little owlet had climbed a little higher into its favorite tree.

Mom and Dad Barred Owl watching the Owlet from an adjacent tree.
Mom and Dad Barred Owl watching the owlet from an adjacent tree.

Mom and Dad owl were in a nearby tree keeping an eye on the little one. Mom flew in and sat next to the Owlet, gave it a few licks on the head and pulled a couple of its feathers and then returned to Dad, probably satisfied that she was all right. It was a beautiful outcome to witness.

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