Two words: baby owls
Photographer Jim Damaske was on vacation, but he couldn't resist taking this picture of a couple of baby great horned owls cuddling together out of their nest in Clearwater at Kapok Park.
"Great horned owls do not build their own nests, they take them from other species, and are particularly fond of bald eagle nests but can also be found in osprey and hawk built nests," says Barbara Walker f the Clearwater Audubon Society. "Overall, we are seeing an uptick in the number of great horned owl nests, not just here, but also in Hillsborough.
"If someone finds an owlet under a nest and the parents are still around they should call the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary [(727) 391-6211] right away, and arrangements will be made to get the bird back up in the tree, even if that includes making a makeshift nest. Bucket trucks, tree climbers and people experienced with birds of prey are all needed to coordinate this type of rescue. The owlet may need to be examined prior to being returned to its nest. Even though an owl might look fine, there is always the potential that it has scratched an eye or has a minor fracture somewhere."
"Cars and poison are main causes of mortality for owls," she said. "Great horned owls are incredible predators including being natural enemies of bald eagles and ospreys. Great horned owls have 500 pounds of pressure per square inch in their feet while bald eagles have 300."
Just to recap: Cute from a distance, but cuddly? No.