Thursday, March 13, 2014
After much patient waiting by myself and many others, I saw two owlets last night! I got to the park marveling at the difference between Tuesday, when it was sunny to cloudy and a high of 77, and Wednesday, with some sun but mostly cloudy, windy and a high in the low 40s! The park felt almost empty after the happy throngs of people on Tuesday. I came to my first nest vantage point and there were two owlets looking back at me! What beauties! [Be sure to double click on the photos to see a larger version]
Amazing! The one higher up on the left used that position the last few nights and while I had not seen the owlet lower and on the right, it looks, judging by the development of its facial disk, that it might be older than its loftier sibling. Here is a video of the gorgeous pair.
I only stayed at this close vantage point for a hyper-brief time as to not disturb the owlets and Sarah. Sarah was perched nearby in a tree roughly between The Fleur des lis Tree and The Eastern Tree, keeping a close eye on her progeny.
I arrived at the vantage point that gives the most insight into the nest, or as I sometimes call it, the least worst spot. Very importantly, this spot is sufficiently far from the nest so as not to disturb its inhabitants. I could see the two owlets but no more. Not that this was disappointing in the slightest!
Around this time I ran into a father-son pair: Bob and Rick Smith. Bob had kindly attended my talk at the University City Public Library the night before with our mutual friend, Taffy Ross, and Rick is an avian keeper at the St. Louis Zoo. I delighted in showing them the two owlets and Sarah and we had a nice time chatting about a whole host of topics. Bob generously complemented me on my talk and manner of presenting. As he is a retired art professor at my alma mater,Washington University in St. Louis, and, as he put it, "someone who knows some things about talking", I greatly appreciated his comments. Charles began to hoot from the vicinity of The Trio Conifers, his spot of choice lately. We all enjoyed hearing his mellifluous hoots .
Sarah flew out of The Wooded Area and landed in the 06/09 Nest Hollow. She looked in the hollow, which is one of their prey cache sites, but did not go inside the hollow. Perhaps the cupboard was bare.
She flew back into the woods, making a hunger/food-related call as she did. By now I could tell, based on the direction from which Charles hoots boomed, that he had relocated. I guessed that he had moved to The Rain Tree and a quick look confirmed my guess. He had made a similar transition in recent weeks and it was interesting to see this again as The Rain Tree, so far, is not used regularly as a fly-to perch. Sarah quickly re-emerged from The Wooded Area and now with prey in her talons. The wind was so strong that she could not land in the nest but landed on top of the hollow branch.
I figured that she had possibly uncached prey from The Great Northern, a frequent cache and feeding tree. To get to the nest, Sarah transitioned to nearby branches now with the prey in her bill. After I took pictures of her, I zoomed in on them and saw that the prey was the head of an Eastern Cottontail Rabbit; one of their favorite types of prey. Nothing like a little brain food to help the owlets get ahead.
Sarah flew into the nest and undoubtedly was eagerly met by the owlets whose intense metabolism demands frequent food. In the below video you get a nice, albeit brief, look at Sarah's legs or as my girlfriend Wendy calls them, "pants."
Sarah disappeared into the nest and I saw one owlet and then no owlets as they were likely getting fed. Bob and Rick took their leave. I hope to see them again watching the owls. Charles continued to hoot and I went for my first close look at him. Here he is perched in The Rain Tree, thus called because this arching branch with several small branches coming off it is a frequent perch site for the owls when it rains or snows.
Here is a video of him hooting and then doing an escalator stretch.
Sarah flew out of the nest to The PX Tree and I went to look in the nest and saw one owlet looking back at me. I noticed that Charles had not hooted for a while and sure enough he was gone. He has been disappearing on me quite a bit lately. Even after over eight years of observing these owls, the challenges of doing so are abundant.
I started to head out but took a moment to capture Sarah in The PX Tree. Such a joy to see the second owlet last night!
I headed home and crashed early. I was happily tired from a full day of work on Tuesday, followed by my talk at the University City Public Library and another day of work on Wednesday and the night's owl observations. I am thrilled to report that Tuesday's talk at the UCity Public Library went very well. 86 people attended the talk, making it one of their most attended events in recent memory. The response from the audience was fantastic. People were keen to learn about the owls and they enjoyed how I presented my work to them. Here are a couple of shots from the talk taken by friend and owl mentee, Brenda Hente. Thanks, Brenda!
I would like to thank: Claire Birge and everyone of the Library Friends Board for inviting me, Library Director Patrick Wall and his staff for their great assistance, Wendy, Brenda, Barb Brownell, Chris Gerli, Taffy Ross, Bob Smith and everyone for attending and Rusty Wandell for keeping me posted on the owls after I had a brief look in on them earlier in the afternoon. I hope I can present again at this superb library!
Thank you for reading!