Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Owlets at 24 and 22 Days

This is the owlets one week (!!!) before fledging.

A drop off, and #5 picks up and eats what appears to be a cockroach scrounged from the floor:

Two drop offs, the second one to #5, who has made his way up to the front of the pack:

A check-in and a drop off:

A drop off is split between two owlets:

Just a little leg stretch:

Owlets at 23 and 21 Days

Three rapid fire drop offs (the third delivery was just being brought in when the camera stopped recording):

DH returns to the nest at 9:11 in the morning, which suggests* that she didn't come back to the nest before sunrise like usual. 

One owlet standing tall to look out the hole; the other four are at the back looking up. At lower right, #5 can be seen laying down, which is how he usually sleeps.

Two drop offs. #5 is at the back, barely visible, scrounging around on the floor for scraps:

*A technical note is relevant here. The nest cam is solar powered. During the early spring, before the trees leafed out, the camera battery would get run down during the night from use, and it would then get charged back up to 100% during the day. Then the trees leafed out at the same time that the owlets stopped sitting still ever, so the battery is no longer keeping up with both the use and the lack of sunshine hitting the solar panel. Thus, the camera is dying at some point every night which means that we're missing hours of action, so I don't know for sure, but it appears that DH quit sleeping in the box with the rowdy owlets yesterday at 1 p.m. She moved out last year as well when the owlets started bouncing off the walls, and started sleeping in a nearby pine tree with Boyle.

Owlets at 22 and 20 Days

This was an important day. This was the day that the owlets were bouncing off the walls so much that DH moved out of the nest in the middle of the day. It was that bad. 

In this video, you can see how crowded the nest box is getting, and how rambunctious the ruckus. (The noises you hear outside are those of a graduation ceremony at the park a block away.)

Here, it looks to me like this is #5 working his wings a bit:

And the final flapping session that drove DH out (she left  5 minutes later):

DH did return to the nest box that evening, and made the particular kinds of noises she always makes when she's been away from the owlets for longer than average (as in, an entire hour instead of just a few minutes.) In this case, she was gone for over 5 hours:

The other milestone was that an owlet successfully made it up into the hole and sat there momentarily before (apparently, to my anthropomorphizing eye) seeing something frightful out in the world, and jumping back into the nest to hurriedly bury its head under a sibling. We have a healthy bat population so there are 6 or 8 of them whizzing right past the nest box every evening. My guess is that a bat is what scared the owlet.

Owlets at 21 and 19 Days

The older owlets are really starting to look like owls:

#5 picks up a scrap of wing from the floor. He seems to spend much more time than the others scrounging around on the floor for scraps. Perhaps his runt status will result in him being more resourceful.

A drop off:

Owlets clamoring for the hole; #5 is jostled to the back:

An owlet almost makes it up into the hole:

A drop off, and a good look at little #5:

Another drop off, and this time, I'm pretty sure that's #5 getting the moth:

Owlets at 20 and 18 Days

More serious flapping, and little #5 appears briefly at the end:


Still trying to get up into the hole:

Owlets at 19 and 17 Days

At 19 days, flapping is getting more animated, and now the owlets are starting to practice leaping:

Owlets trying valiantly to get up into the hole:

The owlets' little faces are looking more and more owlish:

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Owlets at 18 and 16 Days

At 18 days, the owlets are exercising their wings more:

...and stretching their legs:

#5 peeks out:

Owlets are starting to disco (move their head around to "adjust" their vision which is still not owl-like):

Boyle delivers to DH; she feeds, sits in the hole, leaves:

Two drop offs and a baby face:

Owlets at 17 and 15 Days

Owlet horking a bird wing:

Flapping and preening:

Parent checks in, leaves, returns with a delivery:

A live cockroach in the nest:

Baby faces:

Owlets at 16 and 14 Days

Owlet with a moth that was just delivered by a parent, whose talon is still visible in the hole, on the left. Young #5 is in the upper right corner:

Owlet with a grub or caterpillar, maybe:

A parent brings a moth in to feed the owlets, but it makes a getaway:

Owlets at 15 and 13 Days

A parent feeds the owlets (15 and 13 days old) something white, fluffy and unidentifiable to me:

Here, an owlet pesters its mom:

Day 14, Day 15

A parent feeds an owlet (14 and 12 days old) a moth:

Here, owlets (15 and 13 days old) get a little more assertive with a bird carcass:

Newsflash: Owl Moms Don't Get Any Sleep Either

Owlets are fidgety. Even during the day when they, and especially their mom, who has spent the entire night hunting and feeding them, needs to be sleeping. Owlets here are 14 and 12 days old:

Finally, Some Gore

I've received some complaints about the lack of excitement in the owl videos. The thing about nest cam videos is that this is nature, the way it's unfolding in the real world, and sometimes it's calm. There are periods of time where not much happens, or the juicy action is hidden from view, and there aren't many car chases or bike jumps, but for those of you lamenting that fact, I can, finally, offer at least a bit of gore. In this video, DH feeds a bloody bird head to an owlet -- look for the beak at :46 -- and (bonus!) does it in daylight, which means it's in color:

At this point, DH is spending most of the night out of the nest, only entering and staying when she has something big, like a bird, that she needs to tear up for the babies. The majority of the feedings, though, are quick drop offs of small things like moths and cockroaches, during which the parents don't even enter the nest. They just land in the hole, stick their head in, give someone a dead thing, and take off:

Here, Boyle delivers a dead bird to DH, who is in the nest, and she mantles (sorry) and starts tearing the bird up to feed it to the babies:

This is another long one with not a lot of action. One of the parents has dropped off a dead bird and the owlets don't entirely know what to do with it:

Mantling, Feeding

Often when DH is feeding the owlets, she mantles around them and they (and the food) are almost entirely hidden. Here is what we'll call a half-mantle, allowing a partial view of the owlets at 12 and 10 days:

This is a long (4 minute) feeding sequence with decent visibility and both parents:

Falling Asleep at the Dinner Table

In this series, the owlets (at 12 and 10 days) have been left a bird carcass to do with what they may. They sleep on it, drag it around, sleep on it some more, and finally wake up and start to tear into it.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Cheering for #5

                #5 in the upper right, eyes closed. Note the size difference between #5 (ten days old)
                and its siblings (12 days old.)

by Trina

#5 is the temporary name (suggestions are welcome) for the fifth owlet who hatched 2 days later than its siblings and is considerably smaller, weaker, and easier to miss when feeding. We want ALL the owlets to survive, which is not likely, we know, but for now they are all still alive, and for now, I'm paying particular attention to whether #5 is getting fed during deliveries. Feedings are fairly frenetic, making it hard to see exactly what's going on, but once in a while we get a decent glimpse of #5 in the hubbub:

Here, #5 is on the left, struggling with a piece of something dead, while DH feeds the other owlets in the upper right corner:

Here, #5 makes a move and gets fed:

#5 gets food:

Here, a mere 22 minutes later, #5 gets fed again. You can hear his little beak clicking against the nest box wall as he struggles to get something down:

Feed, Sit, Leave, Rinse, Repeat

by Trina

Every morning I awake to dozens of nest cam videos from the night. The camera is motion triggered, so when there is motion, it starts recording; when the motion stops, it stops recording. If I'm awake and can answer the alert that I get when there is motion, I can make a longer video. When I'm asleep, though, the camera is on and off throughout the night, recording in short 20 to 30 second bursts of activity. Most of the clips are nearly the same sequence of parent feeding, hopping up to the hole to sit with his or her wings directly in front of the camera for a few seconds -- you definitely have to be patient with the lengthy views of an out-of-focus owl wing (ah, first world problems) --  and then leaving to go find more food. Feed, sit, leave (FSL). Return in a minute, or 3 minutes, or 25 minutes. Feed, sit, leave. Repeat. There are variations on the theme. Sometimes Boyle brings DH a kill, giving it to her as she sits in the hole. Sometimes he delivers a kill to her inside the box and she dispenses it to the babies, tearing off small pieces for them. Sometimes he delivers to the babies inside the box. Sometimes he gives her food on a branch outside and she takes it into the owlets. Either way, they are both working so very hard, all through the night, doing some version of the FSL over and over and over:

In these next 2 videos, DH does an FSL-return-FS, and then receives a delivery from Boyle, all within one minute: 

Here, both parents are in the box feeding owlets:

Saturday, May 5, 2018

More of the Owlets at 11 and 9 Days

and one of Mom:

Serious flapping:


Owlet with wing part:

#5 with a moth? lacewing? It looks like he doesn't actually succeed at eating it, though. It gets hard to see once DH hops up into the hole to sit, but it looks like one of the larger owlets dives for the bug at 1:30 after #5 left it laying on the floor:

Owlets at 11 and 9 Days

    (#5 is under DH in this picture.)

Two owlets venture out from under Mom:

Here, after DH feeds and leaves, you can see one of the owlets tearing at a piece of a dead thing...

... and lifting the dead thing:

Here, in the first few seconds, you can see the size difference between #5 and its siblings, and an owlet stretches its wings:

Night Terrors

by Trina

On the night of the 3rd, the nest cam caught this interesting footage. As usual, DH comes in with a kill, feeds the babies, and hops up to sit in the hole. At the one minute mark, she leaves and comes back quickly to feed again. Then, just as she's about to leave the second time, something outside apparently startles her. Here's how she reacts:

I went outside to see if I could tell what was going on but didn't see anything because, well, it was dark. The next morning, though, our local Great Horned Owl was sleeping in a tree not even a full block away, so that may well have been what scared DH. It's both really amazing and really worrisome to have a GHO in the neighborhood. It is, of course, such a treat to have wildlife like that in our busy little downtown neighborhood, but we'll be pretty unhappy if the GHOs eat our beloved WSOs. 

When the terrors of the night aren't interrupting normal activities, the parents are in and out of the nest all night long feeding the five hungry little fluffs. In the last couple of days, feedings have been getting increasingly frequent and increasingly frenzied:

In this video, feeding proceeds as usual, and then the babies react to a firecracker:

Owlets at 9 and 7 Days

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Owlets at 8 and 6 Days

by Trina

Eyes are an eensie weensie bit more open:

Owlets wobble, flick their wings, yawn, tussle:

Owlet between DH's wings:

DH gives an owlet what looks like a cockroach:

DH feeding owlets: