Tuesday, March 7, 2017
A.m.; warm, T=69° at 7 AM; cloudy, breezy, waiting for a little cool front to move in.
It is hard to even think about owls today. We don’t know where they are roosting. Possibly both in the palm tree.
PM; cooling and clearing.
Male and female owls in the shop hackberry, apparently coming from the west–another vote for the palm roost. Male flew over the garage to the lower box and started box calls; we have not seen this for a while! Female joined him but did not see whether either of them went inside.
Feeding in the crepe myrtle. Both owls made several insect hawking dives into foliage, and one of the owls made a try at a rat scampering through the computer oak! We haven’t seen that before. Caught the first June bug tonight, too.
Both owls visited the low box again for another session of box calls. Later, we saw feeding and mating in the shop hackberry.
This looks like pre-nesting behavior – mating, feeding the female, and she waiting quietly to be fed. Does the male know his chicks are dead? Or is this triggered simply by her being out of the box at sundown rather than confined inside?
Are they starting over?


Monday, March 6, 2017
A.m. T=69°, still raining off and on. Cooling and clearing.

Female is in the box with one chick, no sign of the other two bodies. Male is not in his wet roost in the cherry laurel like yesterday. We don’t know where he is this morning.
11:45 AM, in the midst of another shower the squirrel returned to contest for the dry box. This time he was successful, driving the female owl out. As I watched on the cam he was whirling around the bottom of the box, shavings and chips flying wildly everywhere. The third chick was dead, thoroughly and deliberately trampled. We got the squirrel out with one sharp, despairing clack of the mechanical fingers, but the damage was done. The female was 6 feet away on a branch outside of the box. She returned to the entrance, down to the floor, back to the entrance, gazing down at the chick. She spent time covering it with her wings, prodding it, and her soft, encouraging clucking to the chick was heart rending.

6:44 PM; female left her box to go directly to the yard west of us. The male, who had been in the shop hackberry, flew west to join her.
7:14 PM female returned to the box for a couple of minutes and left again.
7:41 PM; female is back in the box. 8:10 PM; out again. 9:05 PM; back in
What will happen now? Will she return to roost in this box tomorrow? Or ever? Return to her day roost in the art park? Will she lay more eggs? In the same box or somewhere else? We know that if owls lose a clutch of eggs they will lay more eggs. We don’t know if, losing an entire brood of hatchlings, they will lay eggs again or not


Sunday March 5, 2017  disaster
T =62°F, raining, but not hard.

Male is in the cherry laurel, not well hidden so mobbed, not well protected so soaking wet. Why not roost under the eve? Why not in the snug boy box?
Rain all day, 1.9 inches total
6:35 PM; male dropped from his perch to the crepe myrtle and preened his wet feathers, over and over and over.
6:45 PM; in the midst of more rain a squirrel invaded the box, trying to drive the female owl out. In the frantic battle two of the chicks were killed, only one chick alive afterwards. And during the squirrel fight the male grooming continued in the crepe myrtle. Completely useless. Madame owl, during the next 30 minutes, moved the bodies of the dead chicks, first here, then there. Unsure? unbelieving?
7 PM; male delivered a big moth. Big help.


March 4, 2017
Saturday
6:25am, T=60F, 10 degrees warmer than this time yesterday; also cloudy.

The male owl was by the garage steps when I went outside. I should have just gone back inside but I sat on the deck steps for a minute. If I hadn’t maybe he would have bathed or hung around. Instead he flew to the fig tree in A&A’s yard and eventually up into the palm. The female has a bird carcass in the box to feed her chicks today.
PM, Slow rain in the evening. Did owl watching inside.
6:45pm; female left the nestbox. There are definitely THREE owlets huddled together.
6:50pm; female returned to feed them a moth, based on the scales in the air. Where do you find moths on a rainy night?
6:52-7pm; two bug deliveries, two moths. One chick has modified its cheep to the scratchy “feed me!” demand. Boy, that didn’t take long.
8:28pm; male delivers a sizable piece of something and Madame immediately sets to feeding the chicks. The big piece is very dark and has a tail….a rat? Even better!


March 3, 2017
Friday
AM, T=50F; wind coming around to the east.

6:20am; Madame is in the box. Went out to watch for the male. He was high in the shop hackberry. By the time I settled myself on the steps he had disappeared. Drat. I didn’t even see what direction he headed. But it wasn’t much longer before I heard the distinctive rustling plop of him diving into his palm leaves for the day.
Coolish, out on the driveway for lunch.
Missed PM owl time—


March 2, 2017
6:20AM; T=52F; high cirrus, cool day and very blue sky.

We got up early but could not locate the male’s day roost. He doesn’t seem to have been drawn to the newly installed boy box and isn’t anywhere else obvious. Perhaps he is back in his usual palm roost.
PM T=68F
The male must have been in the palm. He came to the ivy tree/thistle branch at 6:35pm and hunted around there and in the twin lights of Jost’s apt bathroom window and the Klein floodlight. Looks like an insect night. The female never came out of her box.
8PM, one small bug for Madame—a flurry of moth scales fills the air.


March 1, 2017
Wednesday
7AM, T=73F, light misty drizzle gave way to calm low clouds.

6:15am; Turned on the cam to see Mme was out of the box; we can clearly see two chicks and one egg. I went out to sit on the shop steps, curious to see where the male would roost now that he has a box of hatchlings.
6:25am, F returned over the roof to her nestbox, coming from the N-NW. Male came to the Prius branch.
6:35am, M went to the cherry laurel, hidden from me behind a tree trunk. I gave it 5 minutes—saw no further flight—and went inside. In 10 min more I went up the drieway, stared hard at the laurel but couldn’t find the male. I then checked the burr oak (sometimes a roost) but ditto. So I turned and went back up the driveway toward the garage and there he was—sitting on the top of the extension ladder leaning up against the house where T is repairing the roof. Too funny. I hope neither T nor Ar needs that ladder today.

Work_buddy_1

PM; a cool front is moving in tonight. At 6:40pm the male flew east from his ladder perch.
6:46pm female flew from the nestbox to meet the male in the computer oak.
7:30pm; We saw one insect delivery to the box
Tom hung the ‘boy box’ over the north window of the weaving room, facing the nestbox, to see if it would lure the male from his ladder perch. This was done in the dark, to leave him undisturbed during the day.


February 28, 2017
Tuesday
AM T=71F; warm, moist, ESE breeze.

Grackles and blackbirds are showing up in the Art Park now. Ick. On the nest Ms Owl seems to be paying close attention to the bottom of the box. Cheeping is louder—one egg certainly hatched. The “egg shimmy” is gone—she wouldn’t want to abrade her new chick.
If we are right about the laying date (Jan 30) then this chick hatched in 28 or 29 days. Gehlbach says about 30 days on average, not less than 27, not more than 34.
10:30am; Madame is eating an egg shell; you can hear the lighter crunching. And we can hear a lighter peeping, too. I think we have hatch number two.
PM
Male was in his usual palm day roost.


February 27, 2017 first hatched
Monday, warm.
We saw anoles out and about today. Also a red-shouldered hawk circling at mid-day, and black-colored swallowtails. The oak trees are erupting in catkins. Some, but not all, hackberry branches on the nest tree are sprouting new leaves.
5pm; We turned on the owl cam and heard Madame clucking quietly. We think we also hear faint cheeping—an egg ready to hatch?
Owl time; unusual behavior from the female: she didn’t leave the nestbox at dusk. Instead she moved carefully around, clucking to the eggs. We could definitely hear muted cheeping, either inside the egg or now hatched.
6:41pm, male trilling in the shop hackberry. Flew east over the shop roof. Will he now change his day roost location or will he stay with the palm?
One bug and one gecko (sm video) delivered while we ate dinner.


February 11 and 12, 2017
Saturday and sunday

Oyster fest near Rockport. We had sandhill cranes overhead while having coffee on the porch both mornings. We heard the whoopers, too, and went to see them in the neighbors place. There were 5 of them, including a brown-headed juvenile at the meadow, along with the sandhills, egrets, spoonbills and flocks of whistling ducks. There was a ladder-backed woodpecker in the pond area of G&W’s property (female).
On Sunday on the way home we stopped for coffee on the Colorado River (off 521). We watched a pelican gracefully, clumsily, dive and swallow mullet every 100′ down the river. A fruitful stretch.