Monday, December 7, 2009
After a week of some amazing owl behavior, which included duetting in and around The Possible Nest Tree early in the week and each of them going after a raccoon on Friday, December 4, Charles and Sarah disappeared and reappeared once more.
On Saturday, December 5, I was in Kennedy Forest where I ran into Barb Brownell and Chris Gerli.
We were all looking for other owls (more on that in a soon-to-be completed blog post, I promise) so we looked together. After this search concluded and they showed to some of the spots where they had followed these owls, we jumped in their car and headed off for the territory of Charles and Sarah. Just like Thanksgiving, we could not find the owls.
Barb and Chris could only stay for a while but while they were there, we could not find the owls. On my own, I went looking around all over just as I had on Thanksgiving and with the same lack of success. I did not see or hear anything that indicated they were in their area, My friend Edward Crim and his family looked for the owls earlier that day and he described in his blog that he too was unable to find them. I felt slightly vindicated that many well-practiced eyes and ears drew a blank but I was still puzzled and concerned about where the owls were. Also like Thanksgiving, it was a beautiful night and the owls made an appearance in my dreams that night.
On Sunday, December 6, I headed to the owls' territory as soon as I arrived in the park. Exactly like the day after their Thanksgiving disappearance, Charles was back in his favorite conifer and Sarah was once more in her new perch in The Crossroads Conifers.
Sigh. Why had they left? Where did they go? When did they leave and when did they return? Why did they not leave a note (again)? Plenty of questions, no answers.
Having relocated the dynamic duo, I had a little more time before sunset so I went to the other portion of The Successional Woods. On Saturday, November 29 I heard a Barred Owl call once from that area. I have found Barred Owls in this area before but it had been a while since I had found them. I went to one of the few glades where I had luck finding these owls before and just as I began to approach this area, two large birds went flying away at a rapid rate. I was able to identify one as a Barred Owl and while the second bird was likely a Barred Owl, I saw it too briefly to absolutely positive. I tried to relocate them but without success. I headed back to The Wooded Area to watch Charles and Sarah.
I became concerned about Charles that night even after I found them. He and Sarah got a nice duet going. She flew from her perch in The Crossroad Conifers to the top of the bare tree within The Quintet Conifers.
Sarah glided off southeast, passing by me in heart stopping fashion at eye level and within fifteen feet horizontally. Charles flew out of his favorite conifer but only a short distance to a nearby tree. Minutes he later he again flew another short distance and his landing was a little awkward. Even taking into account that short flights and their landings can be awkward, it still seemed odd and that he flew such a short distance and not to one of his more typical fly-to perches, which are further away. I began to wonder if he had been injured.
I watched him in this second perch from a close but safe distance as night descended. After 30 minutes of minor head movements and no hooting, he did a double wing stretch and groomed for a half minute. His movements resumed being limited to small head movements. I resolved that if he did not fly after being in this perch for an hour, then I would gently flush him from his perch and watch him fly to see if he was in good shape or not. Meanwhile, my fingertips were investigating the possibility of emancipating themselves from the rest of me. While I was warmly dressed, standing still on a cool evening makes keeping toes and fingers warm an all too palpable challenge.
As the hour mark neared, he expelled a large pellet but still did not hoot. If a pellet is on its way up it will serve as an impediment to hooting. Usually, once a pellet is expelled, they will resume hooting, often with gusto. Charles then flew off , making another short flight. My view of the flight was partially obscured but what I saw was a solid flight. Still, I wanted to be certain he was okay. I walked directly to his perch and only as I got to within a few feet of him did he fly off east. Thankfully, it was a long, high and powerful flight that took him out of The Wooded Area. I felt relieved that he was okay and I went to reacquire him.
I found Charles in one of the large Cottonwoods between McKinley Drive and The Muny. He began to hoot in a loud, strong voice, which reassured me even more. Further reassurance came as he flew off southwest into The Hilly Wooded Area. Satisfied that he was fit as a fiddle, I headed for home. My route home took me through The Hilly Wooded Area where I found him once more. I watched him for a moment more before he flew off south. I could him hear him hoot from from The vicinity of The Possible Nest Tree. I made my home eager to regain feeling in my fingertips and still curious about the owls disappearance and reappearance.