As of yesterday, the last nestling was still in...the nest. It is interesting and a tad worrying that it has not fledged. Is it a late bloomer or is it injured or with some other physical condition that is keeping it in the nest? I think it more the latter. On Friday. April 5 and Saturday, March 30, myself and various other owl watchers saw this owlet flap its wings, approach the lip of the hollow and almost, at times, look like it was going to fledge but did not. Still it was good to see it be able to perform a wide range of motions.
In the meantime the fledglings, Sarah and Charles have not been idle. The fledglings continue to gradually mature as they improve their flying, walking, climbing and landing skills. Every flight, every landing, every day is a learning experience, a move forward on the slow, long path towards maturity and independence. For example, here is a sequence from Monday, April 1 of the oldest owlet hopping up from one branch to another.
On both Monday and Tuesday I was lucky enough to see a fascinating sight. Each day was bright and sunny and thirty-forty minutes before sunset Sarah fed herself and the fledglings an Eastern Cottontail Rabbit. It was light enough that I was able to get some decent footage both stills and video. On both days, I believe that Sarah did not freshly catch the rabbit but uncached it from one of their cache spots. Late last week Sarah uncached an Eastern Cottontail Rabbit three nights in a row from the 06/09 hollow. Here she is doing so on Friday, March 29.
Back to April 1, Sarah appeared in The Big Dead Tree with a rabbit and then flew to a lower branch where she took a few bites of it before flying low to feed the middle owlet, who was on the ground. You can hear the owlets' rasping, begging cheeps in the background along with the calls of Red-winged Blackbirds.
The middle owlet jumped down to the ground, met Sarah on the ground and Sarah fed her.
The owlet billed clacked at Sarah as the owlet made its way to Sarah. Over the years I have heard the owlets bill clack when excited and/or hungry. An adult will bill clack if it is angry and disturbed. If you ever have an adult owl bill clack at you-get away from the owl and do so with speed. The owlets seem to bill click because they are so excited and they just can't hide it. I call it The Pointer Sister Phenomenon.
A few minutes later, Sarah flew to another low perch. She fed there for a few minutes before flying to another perch closer to the eldest owlet.
Sarah then flew back closer to the eldest owlet who, in the meantime, had flown a good 20-30 feet to a larger branch. The owlet made its way down the branch to Sarah by walking and taking short hops and feeding commenced. My apologies for the partially blurry footage in parts. It was amazing to see both owlets make big moves to get fed.
As Sarah continued to feed the owlet, she gave it a large piece of prey, possibly one of the rabbit's legs. The owlet took a few bites more from Sarah but very importantly began to feed on its own.
This transition to Sarah feeding them bite-by-bite to the owlets being able to eat partially on their own is a big step. The eldest owlet got more food but Sarah did try to feed the middle owlet again. However, it was unable to move close to Sarah, even though Sarah moved a few times trying to get closer to her young. Sarah eventually flew and cached the prey in The Great Northern. I headed back to check on the nestling once more before heading home. Wendy was concerned that the eldest owlet received more food than the middle owlet. I told her I shared her concerns but was confident that Sarah and Charles would do their utmost to make sure that everyone, themselves included, had enough to eat.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Dinner Time! Part II, which will be coming in the next few days. Take care!