Red-Tail Hawk and Great Horned Owl Confrontation

A pair of great horned owls have been visiting this red-tail hawk nest at the Presidio for several nights. This is the first time it’s come to the nest during the day, and the first time the RTH has seen it. It didn’t take kindly to the invasion and attacked it soon after it arrived.

The GHO was able to fend off the RTH the first time, but on the 2nd attempt, it fell off the nest and didn’t come back until the next day. The RTH returns to make sure all is secure. Confrontations are done in real time and in SloMo. The owl comes back the next day and lays an egg, followed by another a few days later. There are a few minor skirmishes, but the RTH finally moves on and lets the GHO have the nest. One of its two eggs broke, but the remaining egg is due to hatch by mid-March.

This is actually very common behavior. Redtail Hawks and Great Horned Owls are in continued competition for the same nesting sites. Redtail Hawks build nests, but Great Horned Owls commonly use abandoned nests of Redtail Hawks and other birds. This can lead to some competition between the two over a nesting site. It also doesn’t help that their nesting seasons overlap.