Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Owl Prowl This Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 26, 2011

A few weeks back while trolling the web for references to my work with the owls and/or this blog, I found a reference on a cool blog about my old neighborhood in St. Louis, the Central West End. The reference was part of a fascinating post about a Barred Owl that came down a person's chimney! I contacted the blog's creator, Nicki Dwyer and we began to correspond. She kindly posted about my presentation for The St Louis Audubon Society, which she attended and enjoyed a great deal, I'm very happy to say. We discussed the idea of conducing an owl prowl that she would organize and coordinate and I would lead. With pleasure I can announce that such a prowl is a go! As of yesterday, 10 of the 15 spots were full! Read all about it in this post on Nicki's blog. Thanks for all the interest and support, Nicki!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Update on Tonight's Lecture

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tonight's the night: my talk on the owls for The St. Louis Audubon Society! I can't wait! I am happy to announce an update on the talk. The talk's location has changed to a larger room. The talk will still be held at 7pm at The Dennis & Judith Jones Visitors' Center in Forest Park at 5595 Grand Drive but instead of taking in place in The Learning Lab, it will now be in The Trolley Room. The Trolley Room can hold significantly more people, so I hope this change is a good sign of increased interest.

I am also happy to report that the article in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch have garnered a great deal of visits to this blog and many e-mails from folks interested in owls and eager to share their enthusiasm with me and learn more about Charles and Sarah. Great stuff!
Here's Charles in The Middle Tree from last night.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Article On The Owls and Me

Sunday, January 16, 2011

As of midnight, the article on Charles, Sarah and my work with them is online. I'm very excited to share it with everyone! My thanks to Edward Crim, who put me in touch with Glen Curcio and my thanks to Glen, who put in me in touch with the article's author, Jim Winnerman. Big thanks to Jim and photographer Christian Gooden for nicely capturing the owls and my work with these amazing animals. You can find it here:

They also have a blurb on my talk to The St. Louis Audubon Society and the date has been corrected. Many thanks to Karen Meyer of the Society and Amy Bertrand of the Post in making the correction. Here's the blurb:

Again, my presentation to The St. Louis Audubon Society is on Tuesday, January 18 at 7:00 at the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitors Center in Forest Park on 5595 Grand Drive. The talk will be held in The Learning Lab.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share the article and blurb via Facebook or e-mail so that word spreads even farther!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Article and a Correction!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I am very excited to see an article on the owls and my work with them on the front page of the Home & Away section in tomorrow's edition of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The article is not online just yet but when it is, I will be sure to post a link to it on my blog. The article, done by excellent freelance journalist Jim Winnerman and with deft photography by staff photographer, Christian Gooden, is a nice summary of my history and work with the owls.

Unfortunately, there is an error about the presentation I am giving to The St. Louis Audubon Society. The article lists my talk as occurring on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 when in fact, the talk will take place on Tuesday, January 18, 2011.

I have contacted the editor of this section of the paper and have asked them that they correct the date in the online edition of the artcile. Hopefully, this error will not cause too much confusion. I hope to see lots of folks at my talk on Tuesday, January 18, 2011. Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Charles Feeds Sarah. Why? She's Nesting!!

January 14, 2010

Sarah has been nesting since December 19 and yet I continue to play catch up when it comes to posting to this blog. Thankfully, last night's incredible events are a nice way to show and not just tell everyone that Sarah is nesting. Fear not, I plan to tell the whole story (so far) of Sarah's nesting. It is full of amazing twists and turns and no shortage of drama and mystery.

Last night was my first night to watch the owls since Monday, January 10. I went straight home and made dinner for Wendy and me on Tuesday and on Wednesday I met with Karen Meyer, an at-large member of the board of the St. Louis Audubon Society. We went over a few matters relating to the talk I'm giving. I hope to see you many of you at this talk! It is on Tuesday, January 18 at 7:00pm at the Dennis and Judith Jones Visitors Center in Forest Park.

After the two day absence, it felt like it had been a month since I had last seen the owls. I found Charles perched in The Fleur de lis Tree. One of the fascinating aspects of this year's nesting season is that Charles has been varying his roosting spots more than I ever seen before during a nesting season.

Charles began to wake up and groom extensively with a few stretches. Here he is doing a double wing stretch and then cleaning his talons in his bill.

He began to hoot and Sarah, from deep within the hollow in which she is nesting, returned the hoots and another lovely owl duet was born. Sarah is nesting in a new spot in what I have called until recently, The 06/09 Nest Tree. This Cottonwood tree is where she nested in 2006 and 2009. Those years she nested in a large hollow branch. This branch was severely damaged in the first week of June 2009. She is nesting now in another hollow branch of this same tree but on the opposite side of the trunk. I had always thought this hollow too small for the owls to use but they have proved me wrong.

Charles alternated between hooting and grooming when suddenly he changed positions on his branch. He looked to the east towards the waterway and did a noticeable head bob. Owls and other birds of prey move their heads from side to side to help them get better depth perception on what they have in sight. I watched him through my cameras and binoculars and soon realized that he was in the zone for a predatory attempt. He was completely fixed on this area by the waterway. Charles head bobbed a few more times and remained concentrated even though he did return a hoot after Sarah hooted first.

I looked at the area that Charles was scoping out but did not notice any obvious prey such as Eastern Grey Squirrels, Mallard Ducks, Wood Ducks or Muskrats. I paused and realized that there could be a small mouse or other small rodent that caught Charles' attention. This fall and early winter, I have seen several successful predatory attempts by Sarah on small rodents including one by the waterway. I made the call that such a small rodent was the likely target and I waited patiently but with great excitement especially as it was still quite light. My patience was rewarded as you will see below. Please be sure to check out all three videos.

My call was correct, Charles caught a small rodent! He paused with it in his bill and then flew to the hollow where Sarah is nesting and delivered it to her! As you saw in the last video, he hooted immediately upon arriving at the nest and Sarah responded, their earlier duet born anew. He then hooted some more at the edge of the hollow before returning to The Fleur de lis Tree where he continued to hoot. I don't think I'm over-interpreting or anthropomorphizing when I say that his hooting seemed to filled with pride. Here he had just caught a prey item and provided for his mate while she incubates their eggs all while it was still early in the evening.

Charles hooted for several more minutes before flying off north. I waited another 20-25 minutes for Sarah to fly out and visit one of her salon trees where she grooms, stretches and expels waste, be it whitewash or pellets or both. She did not show during that time so I headed off to reacquire Charles. I made a good long loop going north, then northwest before heading south. I did not find Charles again this night but I was not surprised by this given the long time between the time he departed and my pursuit. I was still breathless from this seeing this amazing predatory attempt and food exchange and the fact that I caught it on video! Thanks so much for reading!