Baby Valentine~

Sleepy owlet Valentine wears his heart on his face. (Click to enlarge and see Valentine better).

Mama has left him, and it is his first day alone, out of his nesting box.

Valentine doesn’t know what to do,

so he decides to fly down near the human,

watch her out of one eye,

until he falls asleep, clinging to his cactus bed.
Cheers to you from Valentine the confused little owlet~

Note: We have a barn owl nesting box at The Holler, usually woodpeckers nest in it, but this spring a barn owl family actually moved in. Valentine is their chick. I kept an eye on him for his first 24 hours out of the box, which was easy because he seemed quite unafraid of me. I think he was a bit shocked and confused. He passed his second night last night, and I could hear him in the oak groves. Today I haven’t seen him, but have heard him in the trees, so I think he is starting to figure things out.

346 thoughts on “Baby Valentine~

    1. Oh, thank you very much! It is 109F today which is a heat record. I had a sprinkler going for the birds in the afternoon and I heard Valentine occasionally, but have still not seen him which I think is progress.

    1. This is the closest I have ever gotten to an owlet, and it was quite a thrill. At The Holler, I hear The Great Horned Owls nightly and I can see them on our roof, and I heard this chick in his box every night, all night, but this is the closest one has ever let me get. He was quite unfazed by me!

      1. I struggle between watching and knowing about nature (all the animals) and at the same wanting to turn away because it can be so heartbreaking that I don’t want to know anything.

  1. Awwww, You are blessed, Cindy, by the presence of these little creatures in your life. How wonderful to watch them and “keep an eye on” them. Little Valentine is gorgeous. <3 I love owls.

    1. Owls are the most mysterious birds to me. They are always around at The Holler, but I only catch glimpses of them, until little Valentine came out of his nest box, and changed everything. I hope the parents nest here every year.

    1. I know it is a very dangerous time for a little owl. He was smart to stay inside our fence and near me for the first 24 hours. Hopefully, he continues to catch on fast….

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    1. He needs your good luck. It is a tough world out here, but I am heartened by hearing, and not seeing him last night and today. It hopefully means he is learning and hiding.

  3. Amazing pictures (to one who lost touch with nature just after childhood, and has to work to get it back). Your comments fit so well. Very nice!

    1. Ahhh, thank you so much. I find, the longer I live, the more I return to the things I loved most in childhood. It feels like coming full circle, back to who I really am, before adulthood and all that bother.

    1. It was his choice. When I opened the window to take photos, I thought he would fly. He didn’t.
      When I opened the door and stepped out, I thought he would fly. He didn’t. When I step by slow step walked up to him, I thought he would fly, but he didn’t. Eventually, I decided I wouldn’t go any closer, and he just fell asleep <3 <3

  4. Timothy Price

    He’s really cute. They just get left on their own like that? Our Great Horned Owls stick together as a family even after the owlets can easily fend for themselves. People say we have barn owls in Corrales, but I’ve never seen one.

    1. We have both Great Horned and Barn Owls. The GHO’s call most nights on our roof, but I rarely see them, and usually only at night. Barn owlets basically receive no parental instruction. They are left on their own, with instinct hopefully kicking in to figure out what to do. It is a record heat day at The Holler today, 109F, so I worry about Valentine. I will know if he has made it to a 3rd night, if I hear his calls after dark tonight.

      1. Timothy Price

        We see the GHO’s almost every evening, and they perch in the cottonwoods around our house and hoot back and forth all night long, so we get hooting in surround sound.

        1. If you hoot in series back at them, and it is credible, they will call back.
          If you don’t get out of the way after this, they will silently swoop you, riffling you hair, making sure you go back inside, because after all, they are the only master airborne predators of the night.

    1. The barn owlet is left on his own to figure things out and receives little to no parental training. They hopefully learn by instinct but I can see first hand how disorienting it must be.

  5. oh Cindy – this is a fun thing to have happen in your area – to host this owl family – how fun and the crisp photos are wonderful – can feel the hairs and can also feel the youth.

    had a road trip last month and my mom and I saw an owl landing – gliding down – with legs drooped a bit – it was cool

    1. Oh, wonderful for you and your mom! I always feel extraordinarily fortunate when I see an owl in the wild. They are these incredible stealth, fast, precision fliers, that can see us perfectly, when we are utterly blinded by the night.

      1. yeah = you summed it up well.
        We were on a short road trip (our best one ever) and the gps just rerouted if we missed a turn (that is not okay at times because it can get way too long and so the next time i missed a turn I did a U-turn and went back to the route )- anyhow at one point we ended up on a very narrow road and it had a pipeline to the left and the GPS kept saying we were on track (and we were – but it was a little slower for that small stretch) and then we saw wildlife – including the owl dropping down –

        1. So getting lost helped you to find where the wild things were! How cool is that! If people try to follow GPS to get to The Holler, it leads them to a dirt road and open range with cattle and one very intimidating Ankole Watusi bull! Maybe the wild things know to go where the people don’t.

          1. well we were never really lost – just took a slower road heading the the right direction –
            if that makes sense.

            and oh wow – I can imagine folks arriving to meet the Ankole Watusi bull….
            wow –
            and GPS is not perfect – but I heard Google maps and directions are the best option….
            and will be what I use next time – like they even give on the minute updates for accidents and weather – so astute

        1. I thought of that, but she is not around. Barn Owlets are taught no survival skills by the parentals. They are left to rely on instinct and good luck. I am hedging the bets for him, with water because today is the hottest day in The Holler since we have lived here, which has been ten years, 109F. Not a good day for an owlet to try and learn how to survive.

    1. So, today is the hottest day at The Holler since the ten years we have lived here, 109F for much of the afternoon. 90F now at 10pm. This was the day for Valentine to get over the shock of the past 24 hour abandonment, and have hunger drive him to hunt. But all the birds are panting with open beaks. I keep the bird baths full and add ice, and have the sprinkler run at the peak of the heat for the birds. Not a good day for a owlet to try, try and try, unsuccessfully mostly normally, to hunt. But now the rodents just stay out of the sun in their burrows.
      Barn owlets are not taught to survive, they learn, or don’t, by luck and instinct.
      I hear him on top of the owl box right now, and used a flashlight and see him. He is calling for his mother.

  6. How adorable!!! Do birds just fly right up to you and tweet “take my picture please?” They must because you always get the most amazing photos of them. Hugs and love, N 🙂 <3 xoxoxoxoxo

    1. Valentine is here. It is 10 pm, night three. I heard him calling near the nest box, and broke my rule to make sure it was him, using a flashlight. He is here. He is alive.
      Night three.
      Everything is complicated by the heatwave hitting The Holler now. Hottest it has been in the ten years we have lived here. The birds are all panting. The rodents are hiding in burrows. All afternoon the thermometer stuck at 109F. Ice was added to the bird baths, and hummingbird feeders, a single sprinkler was turned on full, cooling a large area.
      I am so happy to see him back, but the food I left him is untouched. He doesn’t know what it is.
      Basically, I get to watch, and hope he is all right. If he isn’t, and I see him dying, I get to call and have him confiscated by wildlife protectors.
      This is EXACTLY the same thing as being a human mother to human children.
      You wait, watch, hope, try to help, and call in the mounties if bad stuff happens.
      <3 <3

    1. We know each other, which means we know the odds about the kindness of the world. The amazing thing to me, is how often cruel odds, are defied in a non-probabilistic way, by beauty and kindness.
      Love to you my friend who knows <3 .

    1. Cacti make good beds, because you can easily see, where the thorns are.
      It is 10:28 PM right now at The Holler. The temp is staying at 90F. In the afternoon it was 109F.
      This is good night time cooling from this hottest Holler day ever, during the 10 years we have lived here.
      But it is not good conditions for the 3rd night of a little owlet’s life.
      He, is here now though, crying for his mother, atop the owl box where he was born.
      Which is great, he is alive.

  7. Sooooo cute again! Fantastic, the animals trust in you, so they come near. They can feel, that you are a kind person and no danger for them. Amazing creation! Love & greetings! 💗

    1. I well remember being repeatedly educated as a child with the scientific fact, that animals had no true sentience or emotions, and ascribing human emotions/sentience to them was anthropomorphism, an example of human hubris.
      Obviously, these scientists, didn’t spend much time among wild creatures.

      1. Oh they must be different from barred owls who are fed by mom for a few months. I got confused. I had a pair that lived in my back tree and the mom fed them for 2 months until they learned on their own. It was awesome to watch. But sweet valentine looks like she’ll pick it up!

          1. No I meant their mom fed them for 2 months. She fed them snakes and mice and squirrels. One of her babies had an injury so she fed it for over 4 months. I contacted an owl rescue place and send them videos and she said usually it is a few months but since her injury mom would feed her for a few more and so she was fed for a long time. All the while in my back tree behind my house

            1. My, how freaking wonderful! Birds are so amazing! As I type, Valentine is back, on top of the nest box calling. Herbert the cat is listening. We all are. <3

              1. I love that she is back. I love their calls. I bet herbert is listening!
                Our owl still calls every evening to her now mate. Used to be to her mama. It’s neat to hear their call change and mature

  8. Valentine is beautiful. Love the heart. May I use your photo to capture him in one of my drawings ? Will acknowledge your blog, and creative photography ?
    I can understand your love of birds, they are all master pieces in their own right.

    1. Of course you can use the photo. I am honored you want to, and appreciate your thoughtfulness in asking. And I so agree with you, each bird is an artistic masterpiece <3

  9. How delightful to see this magnificent Valentine owl… so precious… Axiel my elemental owl that I perceived along my journey came with the distinct message that it was time for humanity to take over his role as keeper and actor of all knowingness and wisdom… which seems to me a great responsibility and can steer humanity into a new bright adventure… much love to you Cindy x barbara x

  10. Namaste Cindy 🙂

    Your photographs are superb and he adorable, it makes for a wonderful combination. I think you’ve made another good friend. Perhaps he’ll not go far: the Holler might even become his ‘home-range’ – Barn Owls are happy to share their patch with others – and no doubt he’ll look-out and look-after you all in the process. The Holler is a haven, he’d be foolish to fly away. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Tufted with talons but I haven’t a clue,
    Paused on my perch knowing not what to do.
    My first day out of the birthing shed,
    I’ve neither woken nor fully fledged: and so,
    I’ll ponder a moment on a cactus spine,
    Don’t worry about me I’ll be fine,
    When I’ve figured out what wings are for
    When then I’ll lift-up from the floor,
    But before I rise in summer skies,
    I think it prudent if not also wise
    To find a friend on whom I can depend,
    “To lend a loving-hand: first night in a new land,”
    “I’m alone with no home without mother:”
    “Without sister or brother without family.”
    “Kind lady will you keep an eye on me?”
    “Will you keep an eye on me please?”
    “I’m not afraid I’m just uncertain, but yet,”
    “I know this is bliss it’s where I exist,”
    “I know I’m a owl called Valentine. I know”
    “I’ll be fine and that in time I’ll fly just you wait and see,”
    “By morning I’ll be hooting from tops of tall trees!”
    “I’ll be soaring heat-waves surfing warm breeze,”
    “Barnstorming skies everywhere I please.”
    “Until by late afternoon when I’ll take a nap,”
    “Grab forty-winks before day slides back:”
    “When then night shall wake me, her dream come to take me:”
    “Her moonlight set me free, O my!”

    Hoping all is well in the Holler. Thanks for posting.

    Take care. Namaste 🙂


    1. “By morning I’ll be hooting from tops of tall trees!”
      “I’ll be soaring heat-waves surfing warm breeze,”
      “Barnstorming skies everywhere I please.”
      “Until by late afternoon when I’ll take a nap,”
      This is exactly what is happening. Your poem gave me owl-bumps! You are an incredibly gifted person Dewin <3 <3

      1. Thank you 😀 I enjoy your photographs very much and your commentary often leaves me inspired: you have an affinity with nature. Valentine is a delight whose image has charmed everyone: you’ve given him notoriety and fame but he’ll remember you because you were there to offer kindness 🙂

        A wonderful share, thank you Cindy. Hoping all is well wherever you may be. Enjoy your weekend.

        Namaste <3


    1. He looked at me for a bit, but eventually find be quite boring, and snoozed off, which is pretty amazing. He was born and grew up in my bird area, where the feeders and fountains are, and I am always out and about. So maybe I felt like part of the environment to him.

  11. Missed your photography Cindy. This series is at the top of my all time favorite ~ love it and glad I didn’t miss the gorgeous creature.

  12. Birds have one the steepest learning curves from hatching to being on their own. While “your” owl appreciated you watching over him on the first day, he didn’t tell you he already knew how to hunt. 🙂

    1. Instinct should guide him through. I do think he was quite wise to nap for his first day outside his box, inside our fence, and near the human he grew up near. This kept him safe from the hawks and Great Horned Owls while he got himself rested and acclimated.

  13. How truly wonderful. I hope Valentine finds his way. Your photographs have given me such pleasure. A beautiful owlet, who has moved into my heart. Thank you Cindy, for always making the world a wonderful place. <3

  14. Pingback: Baby Valentine~ — | Rethinking Life

  15. Just Wonderful. I would love to be able to get photos of a barn owl. They have eluded me so far. Until then I will enjoy viewing these wonderful photos you have taken. Thank you.

  16. What a lovely owlet, it’s a gift to have him settle so near while he figures things out! I’m currently watching new gull parents cope with three chicks on a neighbouring rooftop, Mama is figuring things out fast, that’s for sure!

  17. What an adorable and gorgeous Owlet! I adore owls! I hope he begins to get brave and spread his wings and learns well how to be on his own without his mama! Hugz Lisa

    1. Guess what? He has a sibling! I thought maybe he did, because I heard two owlets calling several times but I never saw the second one. Last night, and the night before I used a flashlight because I know Valentine isn’t worried about me. Sure enough, there they both were on top of the owl, the sib flew away, but Valentine remained!

    1. And there are two of them!!! Valentine has a sibling I have named Nervous as she is scared of me while Valentine is not. They both seem to be doing well! 🦉🦉

  18. There’s a sweetness and vulnerability in his young owl they you have captured so well. May he remain safe and grow into stunning maturity. Great photos, Cindy. You deserve the trust he has placed in you.

    1. The Owls (Valentine & Nervous, yes, he has a fraidy-cat sister,) both thank you, as do I Charles. Your support and friendship make blogging wonderful 🦉🦉

  19. What fabulous photos, and so adorable!
    We’ve had a sparrowhawk family nesting in a tree and it’s been wonderful watching the parents. Unfortunately we’ve never seen the offspring up close as the nest was too high to see into, and once fledged they’ve been feeding the chick(s) in nearby trees, also too far away to see clearly. It was still a special experience though, having the adults flying around so close to us for weeks.

    1. I would so love to have hawks nest nearby. How lucky you are! Hopefully they will return each year to the same nest and since you didn’t bother them, they most likely will.

      1. It is really special, no question about it.
        They’ve nested there before, but its been about an 8 year break since last time. Hopefully they’ll come back sooner next time!

  20. Another amazing experience in The Holler ! Stunning photo’s Cindy. I’m hoping he’s found his footing in this great big world. Hard to imagine that Cacti would be very comfortable 😀 I’d want to fly back to my fluffy nest and wait for dinner to arrive ! x K

    1. He has a sister and they both seem to be doing well. I see and hear them every night now. Birds like cacti. They are good at navigating round the needles, and the prickles may function like a castle with a moat and drawbridge! Still, I’m with you. I want a comfy bed and a moat and drawbridge!

  21. What a little doll!! If he’s still having trouble figuring things out, ship him to me — I’d welcome a baby barn owl with his heart-shaped face!!

    1. He is adorable isn’t he and he has a sibling! I have named her Nervous as she is afraid of me, while Valentine is not. I have seen them together two nights in a row now and they seem to be doing well which is a big relief. 🦉🦉

    1. He has a sibling! I have seen them both two nights in a row now. He seems to be doing well and I am very pleased you like him Adele. Cheers to you & thank you 🦉

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  23. Wow, look at that face! I couldn’t believe the heart shape face. And I didn’t know owls liked to hang out on prickly cactus! Thanks for the education my friend. 🙂 <3

    1. Yes! Thank you! Us humans are supposed to have an innate protective response to vulnerable living things. It seems like too many people may be missing this kinda core trait.

    1. Aww, thank you Frank!
      Valentine is here again tonight. He lets me see him. He has a sib. She flies at the merest hint of me. Mama is around too which surprised me. She is so beautiful, and SO BIG! She avoids me too. Only Valentine seems to not be worried about me. The good deal is, if mama likes it here, she will re-nest here next year, which will be a major thrill, because it is such a huge honor to have them here.
      Be well my friend~

  24. Several years ago, my neighbour found a baby chouette (owl) similar to this one in your excellent photos. I did a post about it including photos. Thank you for taking me back to that special event. We have many owl families living in the trees just across our river. <3

  25. Wow, this little Owl is a absolutely beautiful subject and you have mastered the capture of it’s beauty with you camera! So good … 🙂

  26. He will have to learn fast. What a wonderful gift to finally have barn owls in your barn owl box! Not seen one around here in Spain and they have become quite rare in the U.K. Let’s hope Valentine keeps the love going strong!

    1. He is here on top of the box with his sibling every night, and is basically unperturbed by our presence. I have loved owls since I was a child, but had so little chance to to see them. Having them here is wonderful. Hugs to you my friend and sorry to hear about the declining populations in the UK. <3

  27. Empty nest syndrome in reverse? What a shock for the little fella! Am sure he will learn and cope though, which always amazes me! Nature, if only we would follow the instincts!
    What a wonderful experience for you and thanks for sharing 💕

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. Bird behavior reminds me of human behavior and I think we can learn a lot from them. Maybe we all need to get a little more bird-brained!!

    1. Thank you! I just read today that the nature preserve abutting our property has been extended to well over 1200 acres, which means the wildlife will remain here unmolested. Hooray!!

    1. Yes. Owls have always been elusive for me, so it is a major thrill to have them here with me everyday and night. Owlet should be popping on top of his box any minute now.

  28. These are incredible pictures! This bird is beautiful! Owls are my favourite birds and I like to paint them and draw them as well as collect any and all figurines that I find that represents an owl. You are a magnificent photographer and chronicler of nature. Love your work!

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    1. Yes indeed. It is a hard to describe the feeling when a wild creature lets you get close and sleeps in your presence. I find infinite patience in these situations. Thank you for knowing Vicki დ

  30. Curt Mekemson

    What a delightful story and wonderful photos, Cindy. I’ve been reading about Snowy, the owl adopted, at least temporarily by the folks of Cypress in Orange County. I read about one professional photographer who has taken 20,000 photos of the arctic visitor. –Curt

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