Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Names For The Owlets and Upcoming Talks

Wednesday June 10, 2015

The spring/summer blogging doldrums returned again, unfortunately.  Not the owls and my work with them have quieted down in slightest. Quite the contrary.  With the owlets fledged and growing up combined with my recent appearance on our local NPR affiliate, KWMU St. Louis Public Radio, I am busier than ever with the owls and happily so.  We are in the middle of the twenty-fourth week of 2015 and I have already led thirty-five owl prowls so far.  Eleven talks on the owls are in the books with others already scheduled well into the year. More on talks later.

After much delay, I am pleased to announce the names of this year's owlets: Grace and Harold.

Grace is named for Grace Colavita, my girlfriend, Wendy Schlegel's, late mother.  Grace died on September 21, 2014 after many years of fighting cancer.  She was 75 years old.  Of Grace's many qualities, two always stand out to me. First, her life-long, not just enthusiasm but zeal and passion for learning. When she was not reading or watching documentaries she was talking about the books, magazines, newspapers and documentaries that were next on her list.  Her interests ran the gamut from history, ancient Egypt a particular favorite, religion, dance, cooking and the medical field. Grace finished her associate's degree in general studies later in life.  She artfully and consistently disproved the notion that it is folly to introduce an aged canine to new things. Second, I loved Grace's devotion and care for physical beauty in all of its forms. Be it a person, an animal, a building, a painting, if something captured her eye, mind and heart, she not only paid notice but tribute.

Harold is named after the late director/actor/writer Harold Ramis.  He died on February 24, 2014 from a rare autoimmune disease at the age of 69. His work spanned decades and includes some of the best comedic films in American cinema. You could slice his filmography in fourths and each piece would be a career worthy of emulation.  Hell, he was the only American cast member and writer of the legendary Canadian TV comedy series, SCTV. Taken as a whole, his work is truly astounding.  I start to think of his films and I cannot stop quoting them. Animal House ("Thank you, God!"), Caddyshack ("Oh, Captain Hook."), Groundhog Day ("This is just one of those moments when TV fails to capture the magic of a large squirrel predicting the weather."), Analyze This (""My name is Ben Sobel... -lioni. Ben Sobellioni. I'm also known as, uh, Benny the Groin, Sammy the Schnazz, Elmer the Fudd, Tubby the Tuba, and once as Miss Phyllis Levine.").  Harold Ramis and I both graduated from Washington University in St. Louis exactly forty years apart.  He served on the university's board of trustees while I worked at the university as I completed my degree.  My first middle name is Harold.  I was able to choose my middle names and while I did not know of Harold Ramis when I chose the name I am happy to have this name in common with him as well as my paternal grandfather.

Now who is who?  Well, this year it is rather tricky to tell the owlets apart.  Great Horned Owls lay their eggs at different times; asynchronously, usually a day or two apart but as far apart as five to ten days.  The eggs generally hatch in the order in which they were laid.  This results in owlets of different ages, size, ability, etc. These differences are often quite pronounced but over time the differences diminish.  With Grace and Harold I am convinced that they hatched quite close together. Since I first saw them it has been challenging to distinguish them and as time progresses it is even more difficult to do so.  Given the differences in the ages of their namesakes, Grace is the older the owlet and Harold the younger.

Here are the owlets on March 22 still in the nest.  I think Grace is on the left with the more advanced facial disk development and more forward position in the nest.

From May 27, I think this is Grace. She looks a great deal like Sarah both in coloration and demeanor as she soaks up the setting sun while she perches in The Jungle Gym Tree Near The Archy Tree.

From May 31, most likely this is Harold.  He was perched 20-30 yards from The Three Trees.

The next several shots are from June 2 with the owlets in The Jungle Gym Tree Near The Archy Tree.  While the owlets are growing up they still have some of The Fluff!

One owlet, I think Grace, turned around and began to allopreen (groom) the other owlet (Harold). Very cute behavior to see!

The cool thing about the owls being in this position is that though are so close in size with the forced perspective going on due to their different perches, Grace on the left looks significantly larger than Harold on the right.

We are halfway through 2015 and it is proving to be another great year for owl talks.  I have given talks in Joplin, Missouri (Ozark Gateway Audubon Society) and Carbondale, Illinois (Southern Illinois Audubon Society) and closer to home for Wild Bird Rehabilitation, Fontbonne University and Webster University as well as the spring meeting of the Audubon Society of Missouri. I have several owl talks coming up this summer and more to come in the fall.  As always my next few public talks and all their time, location details are listed on the right side of this website.

My next talk is tomorrow, Thursday, June 11 at 6:30pm for the Scenic Regional Library-New Haven Branch in New Haven, Missouri.  After that I will be at the St. Charles City-County Library District's Spencer Road Branch in St. Peters, Missouri on Saturday, June 27 at 1:00pm. These talks will be my second talks for these excellent library systems. I am excited and honored to be returning to share the owls and my work with these libraries and their patrons. I hope to see some you at these talks!

While I do many public talks for Audubon Society chapters, libraries, other conservation-related groups and more, I also frequently give private owl talks as well.  Private talks include talks for schools, scouts, senior centers, garden clubs among others.  If you work with an organization that you think would enjoy a talk, please drop me a line at
I do talks all over Missouri and Illinois and am looking to expand into neighboring states as well.

Just to finish off, here are pictures of Charles and Sarah. First is Charles beautifully illuminated in The PX Tree on June 7.

Here is a well-hidden Sarah last night, June 9, in The First of The Three Trees.

Thank you for reading!


  1. Enjoying the latest arrivals, and your christening of them, because I learnt more about two amazing human beings as well. Thank you! Deepa.

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Deepa! Glad you enjoy the owlets, their names and the post!

  2. Wonderful birds. Like the names, and I, too, learned about some remarkable humans as well.

    1. Thank you, Mary Ellen! Glad you enjoy the birds and learning about their namesakes.

  3. Loved this! (Also, Animal House and Groundhog Day are still two of my favorite movies.) Patsy

    1. Thank you, Patsy! And you have excellent taste in movies.