Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Recent Video Highlights and Half Year Owliversary Point

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Since my last post was rather photo-oriented, I am making this one more video-centric. My YouTube videos recently reached 56,000 cumulative views; a nice number to attain.  

This first video, from June 23rd, shows what is probably Grace perched mere inches off the ground on The Fallen Tree.  She is intrigued and absolutely focused on the fireflies that travel and illuminate around her.  It was a joy to watch Grace and be able to capture some of these moments.

Next up is Harold, most likely, on June 27 perched in "the back" of The Overlook Hotel Tree. I have found him or Grace there a few times in recent weeks.  I had just found him and began to film him when, as you will see, he did an especially vigorous Fluff-Up, which caused feathers to quite literally fly. Harold was not finished as he segued into an Escalator Stretch.

Earlier that night I found Sarah in The Bushy Tree.  In the last week or so, she has perched in that tree or other parts in The Wooded Area and thus closer to the owlets.  This is in marked contrast to the weeks prior when both she and Charles perched in The Arena. With the owlets getting closer than not to dispersing, is she feeling a type of separation anxiety.  Or does she need a pause from Charles?  "Next on Owls On The Couch."   The sun broke through and her well-hidden spot received a blast of late sun.

I then found Charles and the owlets, Grace and Harold but as the day dimmed and evening emerged, I found her pinnacling in The Eastern Tree.

I had my doubts of the wisdom of Sarah's position as the ever more awake owlets were sure to find her and give chase seeking one of their two parental providers of provisions. This is exactly what happened.  Forgive the shaky video but if it is hard to film an owl in flight, filming three is jolly difficult. Listen for the loud and excited begging cheeps of the owlets.

Two of the three Jungle Gym Trees continue to be frequent perch sites for Grace and Harold.  On June 28, I caught a mere glimpse of Grace in The Jungle Gym Tree By The Archy Tree.  I moved around for a better view and found her fast asleep.  Notice how her lower eyelids are so far up her face.  This indicates that they are sleeping deeply.  What a beauty.

Last night, June 29th, was the half year owliversary point.  I have now watched the owls for nine-and-a-half years.  It is a thrill each time I reach such points as I never imagined how the owls would have such an impact on my life and even the lives of others. The first half of 2015 went well in all respects: observation, documentation and outreach.  The videos and pictures in this post I hope demonstrate the first two aspects of my work with the owls.  Outreach continues to grow and expand.  I gave my 14th talk of the year on Saturday and I have led 39 owl prowls so far. Talks in the first part of the year took me as far away as Joplin, MO and Carbondale, IL and as close to home as Webster Groves and Tower Grove Park. (As always, my next few public talks are on the right side of this website)

Thank you for reading and your support of the owls and my work with them!

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Sunny Owl For A Rainy Day

Friday, June 19, 2015

As I write this St. Louis, along with much of Missouri and the states to the southwest, are experiencing a deluge of rain from the after effects of Tropical Storm Bill.  For most of this week it has been challenging to get out and see the owls in the constant rain.  With this in mind, how about a look back to the clear, sunny day of Sunday, April 19 and see what Charles was doing.

I can go weeks sometimes without seeing the owls yawn.  Other nights it is Yawn City.  This night was one such night.  Charles was perched in a Sweetgum, one of several that he used this and previous springs as a perch/roost site. He began to yawn regularly. [Be sure to double-click on each photo to see a larger version]

I have heard some people say that yawning presages the casting or ejection of a pellet but I have my doubts about that.  I have seen many dozens of pellet ejections over the years and while the owls may open their bills before ejecting a pellet, I have not seen them yawn.

The setting sun broke through and Charles began to groom in the great light.

And yawn some more.

And just look like the gorgeous owl he is.

The sun dipped below the horizon and he shifted his position, preparing to depart for a night's hunting.

Another great way learn more about the owls' behavior, is to attend one of my talks about the owls and my work with them.  I gave such a talk last week at the Scenic Regional Library-New Haven Branch and it went quite well as you can see here.  I am excited for my next talk on Saturday, June 27 at 1:00pm at the Spencer Road Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library District.   Registration and full details are here.  I hope to see you there!

Thank you for reading!

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 mglenshaw@gmail.com
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!