Mathie

'The Owl Whisperer' creates nests for baby birds

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Great horned owls like their privacy, which is why humans don't see them very often. But they're all around -- and living out their lives deep in the forest preserves.

Wannetta Elliot is an avid hiker. On Tuesday, she took ABC7's Frank Mathie deep into a forest preserve to a secret location- her owl tree. Way up above, tucked safely in the branches, a baby bird, born just six weeks ago, is barely visible.

"We're seeing the top of the owl's head. Right now I can't see his eyes. I see his ears and just the very top of his head," Elliott said. The owl is in a bushel basket.

"I put it there," Elliott explains. For the last 18 years, Elliott has been climbing up into these trees to secure bushel baskets filled with nesting materials.

After about a half hour wait, this little owlet emerges.

"We're seeing a little bit more. It's gotten braver and it's come up a little bit higher," Elliott said.

The baby's mother isn't far away. She's found in a nearby tree from which she can watch the ABC7 crew watch her baby. Dad was not around Monday, but he does help with feedings. They feed their offspring every day--mice, snakes, anything they can get their beaks on. The feedings last just a matter of months.

"This little guy is going to have to find his own territory because mom and dad have this territory. They'll kick him out of here probably in October," Elliott.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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