Monday, March 16, 2015
Two owlets are in the nest! Incredible!
This happy fact was brought to my attention by a gentleman named, Michael Paul. He and his family kindly attended a talk I gave last year at the Rock Road Branch of St. Louis County Library in March. They joined me the following month for an owl prowl and had a great time seeing the owls. I was away from the park for a few nights so I was thrilled to get Michael's e-mail on Saturday saying that he saw two owlets in the nest. I thanked him for the e-mail and asked him if he saw two in the nest at the same time. He said that he had and sent a few pictures including a shot with two owlets plainly visible at once. I sent this news and the photos to some of my owl friends and mentees. One of them, Brenda Hente, went out on Sunday morning and saw two owlets at the same time and kindly texted this information. Thank you, Michael and Brenda!
I was able to get to the park last night and while I did not see two owlets at once, I clearly saw two different owlets, one older than the other. I first saw the younger of the two down low in the nest. [Be sure to double-click on the photos to see a larger version]
A few minutes later I had my best view of an owlet so far this year. Judging by size, facial disk and ability to remain visible i.e., strength and endurance this is the older of the two.
It is beyond exciting to see owlets again! A little later I was lucky to see an owlet, presumably the older, move in the nest and stretch its wing.
The owlet continued to move in the nest and had its back facing out. I wondered if it was trying to defecate outside of the nest. I did not see that happen but judging by some flecks of whitewash along the lower edged of the hollow, this may be happening.
Such "toilet-training" is a big developmental step for the owlets but it is not without its dangers. One step too far could be bad news. Before the owlets can go over the side, the female parent is known to eat the owlets' pellets and whitewash. Aspects of motherhood can be hard to swallow.
I do not know if there are two or three or more owlets, I just have to keep watching patiently and see what happens. In my time with the owls, Charles and Sarah have had three owlets four times, two owlets four times and one owlet once. Two-three owlets is the average for Charles and Sarah and for Great Horned Owls overall. In the, so far, two years that they have had three owlets in this hollow, I have never seen all three owlets at once in the hollow.
That said, one of the many compelling aspects of watching the owls and their young is to see patterns develop and these same patterns change in ways great and small. Charles and Sarah provided telling examples of this last night.
I found Charles in one of his typical spots of the last several months; The Tallest of The Trio Conifers. Of late when he perches there he usually flies to The Arena or the very edge of it. Last night, however, he moved to a much closer spot in The Overlook Hotel Tree. Here he is in mid-escalator stretch.
I had not found Sarah and I came to the conclusion that she was still in the nest. With the return of warmer weather she has been out of the nest more often than not. Brenda arrived and we continued to look for Sarah. We returned to The Arena and I spied Sarah high in The Second of The Three Trees. I had looked in this tree several times earlier and had not found her. We agreed that she had likely been in the nest.
We changed our angle on her and noticed that she was in a spot in which we had rarely if ever seen her in this frequently used tree. It was great to see her there as the setting sun bathed her in light.
Sarah returned to the nest and Charles did come out to The Arena, landing in a less than regularly used spot in The Second of The Trees. He hooted there for several minutes before flying out east to hunt, which he has done quite regularly of late.
The sunset provided gorgeous colors and skies.
Another amazing night in this fantastic park with these incredible owls.
Thank you for reading!