I photographed these two great-horned owlets this past weekend, as they cuddled up together on a branch. They had not fledged, making them easy to find close to their nest. Both parents were still around (as was a third sibling), performing the duties of food gathering for their new brood. Occasionally, the left most owl would become unsettled, and scoot closer to the other, even though his body was already pressed up tight against its sibling. Just as the owl on the right was drifting off to sleep, here comes his brother (or sister), snuggling up close.
After a few minutes, the alert owl decided that it wasn’t time for sleeping, but for a grooming session. With that, he began to lick the other owl’s feathers, rearranging them just so.
This continued for quite a while, and I eventually left to see what else I could find. When I returned to the owls, it looked as though the sleepy owl had left and found a quieter place to roost, leaving the alert owl to sit and stare at the world.
I was lucky that these young owls had not yet learned to fly. While they’ll still remain dependent on their parents after fledging, they will be much harder to find among the many trees in the area.