If all goes well I will be updating this blog with a new post later tonight ...
In the meantime, an update. Charles and Sarah have been mating up a storm since my last post. Eleven matings since my last post to be exact. This includes me having seen them mate every night from December 19 - December 27 as well as mating twice on December 22 and 25. It is fascinating to see the variations of when they mate and the behaviors leading up to mating. Recently, I have seen them mate as early as twenty minutes before sunset and as late as ninety minutes after sunset. Sometimes mating has followed a long, multi-stage duet and others occurred after a few Hoos hoo. Except for one mating that I missed filming by a second or two, all of the matings are available on my YouTube page. I will highlight a few below. I encourage you to check them all on out on my YouTube page.
Mobbing by crows has been an almost daily happening. On December 19, the mobbing was especially intense but Charles and Sarah mated. Or did they? Notice how Sarah does not make the high-pitched call that females make when they mate. Was it a maybe mating?
Female humans are often amazed at the brevity of Great Horned Owl mating. I was telling this to two human females, Robin and Mary Ann, on December 20. Minutes later, Charles and Sarah mated very early and as per usual, briefly. Notice how the two human females say almost simultaneously, "Is that it?"
As in the 2012 and 2013 breeding seasons, Charles and Sarah, so far, have been mating in multiple spots but concurrently repeating a certain spot. I have been calling these trees The Marital Bed Trees. On December 25, however, the first of the two matings I witnessed that night, happened in last year's Marital Bed Tree. I was pretty close to them so I got a decent video of the process.
The other big news is that Sarah is nesting. Probably. I will explain. On December 26, I led an owl prowl for my friend, Kim Rois, and members of her family. As we arrived in The Arena we heard Charles calling from The Trio Conifers. Imagine our delight when we heard Sarah calling from inside one of the hollows in The 06/09/11/13 Nest Tree. This tree has received the most nest shopping visits so far this year but it was not clear which hollow they would pick. My money was on the 11/13 Nest Hollow due to the frequency of nest shopping visits it received as well as its many qualities: high, deep, discreet. We took a close look at Charles and then returned to this nest tree. Sarah poked her head out from the 11/13 Nest Hollow. Sweet!
I could not stop grinning and was amazed to see that she, for the first time I had seen, had picked a nest spot that they used the previous year. That said, I was not absolutely, double-bubble certain that this was the spot because, not for the first time, later that the evening she spent a while in the 06/09 Nest Hollow.
My uncertainty was compounded when I arrived at the park early the next day, December 27, to see Sarah and Charles both perched in the The Overlook Hotel Tree getting mobbed by crows. Had she been in the 11/13 hollow and come out early due to the warm weather or had she been perching in The Wooded Area all day? Yet again, she spent a noticeable amount of time in the 06/09 Nest Hollow later in that night.
I arrived at the park yesterday, December 28, ready for Sarah to be almost anywhere. Sure enough, after not seeing her at first, I saw her begin to emerge from the 06/09 Nest Hollow.
Uncertainty received another shot in the arm when later on she flew to yet another previous years' nest hollow. Bloody hell! It is fascinating but puzzling and even at times frustrating to see these changes in nest spots. Ultimately, I am more than confident that Sarah will pick the right place for her and the hoped for youngsters. The track record of Charles and Sarah, eighteen owlets since 2006, speaks volumes.
Last but not least, I have a great owl outreach opportunity tomorrow, Monday, December 30. I will be on the radio on the St. Louis NPR affiliate, KWMU 90.7 FM I will be talking about the owls and my work with them on the air at noon on the program, "St. Louis on the Air" hosted by Don Marsh. I cannot wait! For those of you not near a radio and/or not near St. Louis, you can listen to it online here.
I had the pleasure of meeting Don Marsh just over a week ago thanks to my friend and former colleague, Maggie Vogelweid. Maggie and her husband Greg have an amazing holiday party every year and Wendy and I are continuously honored to be invited to and attend this great soiree. Maggie and Greg are neighbors of Don Marsh. Maggie steered me to Don, I introduced myself and said something like, "I have a story that you may well find of interest." Don is not only a journalist of wide and deep experience he also frequents Forest Park. We talked for a while, I gave him my card and he said that he was most interested and would see what he and the station wanted to do. Don even e-mailed me later that night and a few days later, one of the show's producers, Mary Edwards, contacted me to let me know that they wanted me on the air and to discuss dates. We settled on tomorrow and I am greatly looking forward to this. The owls and my work with them have received solid press coverage over the years but this is the first radio coverage. To have it on such an august program and network is a genuine thrill and honor.
Thank you for reading and I hope to be posting later tonight!