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Owl chick is picture perfect at park

This great horned owl is nearly 7 weeks

This great horned owl is nearly 7 weeks old. Bethpage State Park naturalist Jim Jones has been tracking the chick since it was born. He said photos like this one are rare. He suspects the owl attempted his first flight, landed on the ground and climbed back up the tree. (April 16, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim Jones

About a month after newsday.com profiled some of the newest arrivals at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, naturalist Jim Jones snapped a picture of a great horned owl chick approaching full size.

Jones said it is very hard to get a clear photo of an owl chick like the one he took because the birds tend to nest 15 feet off of the ground. He speculated that the bird -- which he estimated is 2 feet tall and 3 pounds -- attempted its first flight but lacking the wing strength it needs for continuous flight, found itself on the ground. It likely then climbed back up into a tree on a low branch, he said.

“After I took that shot I went back the next day, and he was higher in the tree. He’s probably flying, not well, but he can get around,” Jones said. The proper wing strength could come within the next two weeks.

The other two great horned owl chicks Jones tracked are about a week younger. He said the chicks are most vulnerable when they are just learning to fly and hunt because they spend a lot of time on the ground. Fifty percent of them die in the first year, which Jones said is all part of nature.

“They were born wild and they are going to stay wild,” he said. “Eventually they are going to have to learn how to hunt.”

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