Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2nd mating observed this season!

December 16, 2009

I got to the owls territory 20 minutes after sunset yesterday. I did not hear any hooting so I had to decide where to start my search. Since they have been using The Hilly Wooded Area a great deal recently, I decided to begin there. ESL (Experience, Skill, Luck) paid off again and moments later I found Charles in one of his favorite hunting perches in this area. I have found him in this tree several times in the last few weeks. Interestingly, he is always in the same section of the tree but his exact spot varies.

I watched him in this spot for
seventy-five minutes. This duration likely exceeds and certainly meets the longest time I have seen him or Sarah stay in one tree after they leave their daytime perches. And yes, it was cold. When I got home, the weather report indicated that the temperature was 23F but felt like 14F. While watching Charles in this perch, I changed my observation post a few times to try and get some blood flowing. I was happy to move even more when I saw him fly off west, brilliantly illuminated by the streetlights as he flew over the road.

Charles did not go far as I heard him hoot in a mixed glade of conifers and deciduous trees close to The Hilly Wooded Area. His hoots resounded loudly through the still night air and even through my hat and balaclava to reach my ears. I could not see him for a while until I tried another angle and found him silhouetted in a large deciduous tree. He flew another short distance and continued hooting and again I had to find the right angle before I could see him, this time in a conifer.

I hoped his hooting would bring Sarah into the area and that they would do some Peaches & Herb duetting as I mentioned in my last post. I did not have to wait long at all. From The Hilly Wooded Area, I heard a strange animal call like a yelping meow followed by the dulcet tones of Sarah hooting. I do not know if Sarah made the odd call but Charles responded to her hooting immediately. They began a nice duet that accelerated in pace. I could not see Sarah but it sounded like she was close to The Possible Nest Tree.

Sarah was calling to the left of me and Charles to the right so I figured that I would likely see them if one flew over to join its mate. I was wrong. The next thing I knew Sarah was over in this mixed glad duetting rapidly and intensely with Charles. I did not see her fly there at all. Charles had changed his position slightly but I could not see him or Sarah. Mere seconds later they mated. I did not see them mate but Charles made the high-pitched call he makes while they mate. Sarah hooted while they mated; one of a few times that I have seen her hoot while Congress was in session. Listen to the video below and at the 41 second mark you can hear them mate as Charles makes his high-pitched call.

Just after mating, Sarah flew, again unseen by me, back to The Hilly Wooded Area while Charles remained, for a while, in this mixed glade. I went to reacquire both of them but was unsuccessful. I decided to head home, grateful to have the blood flowing at an even great rate, especially to my cold feet!

It was amazing to observe them mate again. It was especially interesting that I did not see Sarah at all; I only heard her. Instead of flying from place to place, it seemed like she teleported instead! I'm glad I endured the cold watching Charles. If had not been patient paid I would not have been able to observe Sarah and the second mating of the season. That said, I was glad to return to my warm home and tell Wendy all about what I had observed!

1 comment:

  1. Mark: Thanks for taking the time the other night to explain the owls (I was running on the road behind the WF Pavilion). I enjoyed seeing the owls and plan to bring my kids back some time.

    FYI. I saw a great horned owl last night (12/21) flying over McCausland about 1/3 mile south of I64.

    -Sean G.