March 31, 2009
5:45AM; Peeping and clucking, female and one chick and two more eggs n the box.
Heard a couple of food deliveries in the wee hours. This morning in the box I can see that there is something cached in the box, which looks like the remnant of a bird meal. The F is sitting differently, with wings slightly akimbo. She dragged the cached food under her and tore more of it apart (the microphone is just so cool; I could hear bones crunching); she fed it to the peeping owlet while she clucked.
6:30A, out of the box, but I was out of the house so I didn’t see what was under her. I only hear one cheeping, though.
7:06A, male flew from the Stub branch to his day roost today in the tree east of the shop (Football perch, under the canopy of grape leaves at the top of the spindly little tree).
8:00AM, Female is crunching on what sounds like eggshell again. Either she is still cleaning up from owlet #1 or another has hatched.
10:23A, female has dragged over the cached bird(?) part to tear at for the babies. Cheeping has taken a jump in volume and urgency. I think I am hearing cheeping from at least 2 little sources.
It is getting windier, with radar showing storms approaching from the west.
Noon, T=61; F has been clucking/vocalizing off and on all morning and afternoon. She dragged the rest of the carcase over and polished it off.
PM, T=67, very light breeze
7:48PM, Male left his roost in the “Football” tree, east of shop and flew east. This is a little earlier than his previous routine.
At 8:05PM, male delivered a gecko. At some point, when the female was up at the front of the box, we spotted two chicks. Connie thinks the second egg may have been hatched about 8 AM. There may still be at least one unhatched egg. Around 8PM, the female spent time tearing the gecko into bits for the chicks.
At 8:12PM, male delivered an insect. 8:20PM, Male delivered a second fat gecko. 8:43PM, Male delivered gecko no. 3 (wow, isn’t that the Texas bag limit?). Madame laid this one out by the entrance for a bit and then proceeded to mince it up for the chicks.
9:11P, Male delivered a large moth. 9:45P, more food
March 30, 2009
AM, T=50, warmer than yesterday this time; calm
Random check at 3AM—moth delivery by the male.
5:35A, Female out, there are 2 eggs visible and nothing wiggly.
6:38A to 6:56AM, I watched at the window, trying to catch sight of the male. It is easy enough to track owl once seen, but all the burgeoning foliage is making it hard to locate one in the first place. Did not catch him flying until 6:56AM—there he was on the oak branch above the Evan’s roof, just behind the nest box. He hopped around a bit until he found a spot that suited him. I guess that’s his day roost today.
Female poked her head out at 7AM, but went back in. We got rain in the late afternoon.
PM, T=68, damp, overcast, breezy
Egg No. 1 hatched about 8PM on March 30; (our first sighting of an egg was Feb. 27, so that would make this year’s incubation period longer than Gehlbach’s average of 30 days.) Female has been making soft clucking sounds in the nest box. By latest afternoon, male had moved closer to the nest box, until he was about 15 feet away.
Male left this roost at 7:57PM and flew to the end of oak branch right above the nest box. We lost sight of him shortly after. At 8:PM, we heard an amazing sound on the microphone: tiny, high-pitched, squeaky “peeps”. Simultaneously, the female bent over and we heard crunching noises which sounded unmistakeably like she was breaking up and eating an egg shell. So we think at least one egg has hatched (close to 8PM tonight), and she has now disposed of the empty shell (we’ve read that an empty shell could pose a suffocation hazard for a later hatcher, so the female either carries away or eats the empty shells). According to Dr. Gehlbach, chicks start peeping inside the shell during the last day or two before hatching.
With our microphone, we can hear increasingly strong peeping from what we are guessing is the first-hatched chick. But it is possible we also may be able to hear peeping from the unhatched chicks.
8:21PM, Female left the box (finally!) and we got our first peek at the first-hatched owlet. It is in between two eggs; its head is smaller than the eggs. I doubt this shows up well on the website. It is cheeping away now that warm Mom has flown the coop. (Chicks can’t thermo-regulate until they get feathers, so she has to continue sitting on them.)
At 8:31PM, female came back into the nest box, carrying a gecko. We couldn’t tell if she started feeding the hatchling right away.
Male delivered an insect at 8:50PM. It appeared that the female had cached her gecko and waited 30 minutes before starting to eat it and (maybe) feed bits to the chick; we could not see for sure.
10:10PM, Male delivered a snake; he did the monotonic trill but she rattled. He came all the way into the box to drop off the snake (video), and she is now either eating it or dismembering it (does a snake have members?) or feeding it to the chick.
March 29, 2009
AM, T=45, clear, calm
Midnight – 2 AM: Several food deliveries were apparent, thanks to the nest-box microphone which was left on last night.
6:52AM Male was hunting from hackberry over the driveway, from limbs at intermediate heights in the canopy (not from lowest limbs). At 7:05AM he flew east of the garage. I expected to see him come back either to the Boy Box or to the oak tree over the neighbor’s roof, but by 7:25AM, he had not reappeared and I gave up the vigil, as it was now very light. Perhaps he is roosting in the “Possum Tree” just east of the shop today.
10:30AM: Mystery solved: the male is indeed roosting east of the shop, but he is actually in the spindly hackberry crowned by a grapevine, which we called the “Football” roost. I am a bit puzzled by this choice of roost, since I assumed he would try to move closer to the nest box as we get closer to the date of hatching. However, today’s roost is about 40 feet from the nest box (Boy Box is about 25 feet away from nest).
PM, T=62, cool, clear, dry, and calm
We were not around to observe when the owls left their roosts (or returned to the nest box) tonight. There was some discussion about whether or not any eggs have hatched. I think not yet, even though we did not get a look at the box during the female’s absence around sundown. One line of evidence is that at 9PM she was doing a very vigorous “egg shimmy” (the egg-rolling motion) when she settled back down; she would not be making this motion if she had chicks under her. At 9:03PM, male delivered a moth, and at 10:02PM a fine gecko (photo).
March 28, 2009
AM, T=43, clear, very windy
7:00AM Male flew south down the driveway, as if heading for liveoak tree by computer window. There was a tiny warbler calling insistently in this tree, and I wondered for a minute if this represented a one-warbler protest regarding the presence of an owl. However, I subsequently spotted the male in his foliage roost on a long limb of the nest tree which projects over the roof of our neighbor’s house (a 2008 photo of this roost was posted with this year’s March 24 log). In this cold temperature, female looks to be stuck tight to her eggs, occasionally doing the “egg shimmy” to turn them underneath her. With the high winds and cold temperatures, last night must have been a difficult night to hunt insects or lizards.
PM, T=64, gorgeously cool, clear, dry, and calm
5:42PM, Female gave a loud trill, followed by some soft clucks. Male is in his foliage roost on oak branch which is somewhat behind the nest box, so she can’t see him from the entrance. 6:52PM, Loud trills again from the female, followed by soft clucks.
7:49 Male left his roost in oak tree and flew to ligustrum/crepe myrtle area. 7:58PM, Female got up to stick her head out of nest box, and she flew from the box at 7:59PM.
She was back on her eggs at 8:06PM, barely in time to receive the first moth delivery of the evening from the male. I did not see any more food deliveries before 10PM, but I was away from the computer for part of this time.
March 27, 2009
AM, T=67, calm, overcast
5:30A, check shows F on eggs
6:58A, Male over the driveway, flew W over our roof. Didn’t see him again until he returned to his Boy box at 7:06A. Female had her head out, but we never saw her leave her box. At 7:09AM, a bluejay sat on a branch between the two owl boxes and screamed impartially at first one, then the other. 9:32AM, female was sitting on eggs and making extremely soft clucks.
12:58 PM, Male stuck his head out of the Boy Box and trilled . The female responded immediately from the nest box with two loud trills.
We saw a hooded warbler in the liveoak outside the computer room.
PM, T=72, another rainy cold front blew through late this afternoon, temp dropping.
7:53PM Male left Boy Box, heading south to crepe myrtle area on driveway. 7:56PM, Female left nest box, heading north. I can hear geckos cheeping happily after the heavy rain which fell about 4pm. Katydids are buzzing also. I missed the female’s return to the box; she was there again when I checked the cam at 8:09PM. I can hear occasional cracking noises in the ligustrum, suggesting the male might be catching insects there. However, the trees (especially the hackberry over the driveway) are now leafed out so much that it’s very hard to track flying silhouettes. 8:19PM, Female left box, returning at 8:27PM. At 9:10PM, male delivered a crunchy insect. Female was out of the box again beween 9:42 and 9:52PM.
March 26, 2009
AM, T=60, cloudy
5:20A and 6:00A checks show F in the box.
PM, T=64, clearing after a rainy cold front blew through this pm.
7:55PM, Female left nest box and flew east of the garage. 7:59PM, Male left Boy Box and immediately swooped past a low branch of the nest-box tree, apparently picking off some insect. 8:02PM, Female returned to nest box and settled back down onto eggs, after a very short interval outside. 8:03PM, Male is on a branch of the Boy Box tree, eating something crunchy (we’re thinking katydid or june bug). I can hear a june bug buzzing against the window screen. 8:40PM. Male delivers an insect. 8:46PM Female leaves box and is back on her eggs at 8:50PM. 9:04PM, a thump on the outside perch, female made several extremely soft calls (almost “cheeps”), but no food delivery happened. 8:07. Male delivered an insect, this time accompanied by all the “standard” sequence of sounds and actions: thump (his arrival), descending trill (her) , food handoff, monotonic trill (him, departing).
March 25, 2009
AM, T=58, drippy
4:45A, F out. 5:50A, F in but just leaving
6:39A, trilling food delivery by the male
6:45-7:00A, male is hunting from the stub perch, mostly up high in the canopy of the driveway trees and the nest tree. He is catching crunchy things. He landed on the external perch at 6:58A and trilled but the female did not answer nor move from her position on the eggs. He left without further ado, to the Honda branch. He caught another insect/moth and took it to the nest box, trilling, but she, again, did not respond. When he stuck his head in to offer his bit the female rattled at him, still on her eggs. In a moment he withdrew again, flew to the Honda branch and, I hope, ate his offering himself.
7:03-7:15A, M seems to be having trouble deciding where to roost today. He has shuttled back and forth b/w the stub branch and the Evans’ yard and the tree E of the shop five times now. At 7:18A he gave up and went to the Boy box.
PM, T=77, humid, overcast
7:46PM, Male left Boy Box and flew south to ligustrum/crepe myrtle area. A few seconds later, female left nest box, headed north. The resident spider in the nest box has managed to hang some kind of filmy object from the web, just where it will get in the way of night-time photos of the box entrance.
7:57PM, Female was back on her eggs.
8:02PM Male delivered a big, crunchy insect (katydid? Photo).
8:41PM, F, acting on stimuli undetected from inside, climbed to the entrance and launched.
8:49PM, Female returned to box and settled onto eggs. 8:50PM, Male delivered a large moth (photo).
9:14P, F out. Storms coming, wind picking up. 9:35PM, Female is back on her eggs. Rain makes a lot of noise on the metal roof sheathing of the box!
10:20P, Front has passed: T=59, NE breeze. Female out of the box. F back by 10:30P
March 24, 2009
AM, T=71, windy from the S, rain expected
5:20A, F in
5:47A, M arrived on the perch and trilled softly but offered no food
6:50-7:06A, M is hunting in the branches over the driveway and yard E of us, then retired to his day roost in the branch over the Evan’s roof
7:02A, F left the box, N
7:07A, F returned to the box.
8:36A, Oh,oh–M is busted. 5 jays, a mocker and both cardinals discovered him in his branch roost and mobbed him right into his Boy box.
1:45PM, gusty again today, and again the female is alert and restless.
PM, T=75, less windy, rain predicted for later.
7:46PM, Interestingly, the female was the first to depart her box (the nest box) tonight. She flew north, landing initially in the oak east of the garage, where she spent several minutes. The male didn’t leave the Boy Box until 7:52PM, and he also flew north, following the route of the female. A few minutes later, Connie saw him hunting high in the upper canopy of the nest tree.
8:04PM, Female was back on her eggs.
8:23PM, Food delivery by the male (looked like a moth).
8:47PM, Another moth delivered by the male.
9:00PM, Another insect delivery by male.
9:02 Female leaves box, and is back by 9:07PM.
10:58P, spot check: female is out. Back at 11:01P.
March 23, 2009
AM, T=68, SE wind and cloudy, a summer pattern
5:20A, check shows F on eggs
6:47A, F flew N but was back by 6:50A
7:06A, M is up high in the ligustrum/crepe myrtle. Is he going to roost outside or in today? 7:15A, he opted for inside his Boy box.
PM, T=74, gusty wind
7:47PM, Male left Boy Box and flew south to ligustrum on driveway. Four minutes later (7:51PM) he flew to the yard northeast of us, and we lost visual contact.
8:02PM female left nest box and flew north. Connie spotted them briefly, apparently catching insects off the hackberry tree.
8:06PM, she was back on her eggs, after a very short time outside.
8:40PM, Female left the nest box again, returning at 8:49PM. The male is perched on the Stub Branch, apparently hunting the compost pile (a.k.a. “Snake Pit”?). But the food he delivered at 8:56PM was just a moth.
9:00P, M trilled from outside then brought in a huge moth; female found it hard to get down. Gusty out, making lots of branch noise around the box.
10:10P, F out of the box again. Back at 10:14P
10:24P, M delivers a moth, with much mutual trilling; F left the box
March 22, 2009
AM, T=54, clear
5:28A, spot check, F is out
6:20A, spot check, F is in.
6:55A, M landed in the crepe myrtle, upper branch. He hunted for the next few minutes through the canopy over the driveway—chiefly hackberry, oak and liveoak. The ligustrum has finished flowering and doesn’t seem to be the sole target for insects anymore.
7:02AM, Male is not using Boy Box today. Instead he flew to a branch of the nest-box oak tree which extends eastward over the ridge of the neighbor’s house. This oak is now leafed out enough to provide some shelter. (In 2008, we first notice the male using this roost on March 21, but he did use the “Boy Box” a couple times after that, before switching to yet another foliage roost over the neighbor’s back yard, E of the shop).
9:22AM, Loud trill from female in nest box.
No observations tonight; M still in the foliage roost over the roof.