January 31, 2017 First egg!
Tuesday; AM T=55F
Habemus ovum!
We checked the cam this morning to discover Egg #1, along with a cached rat for Madame. We don’t know if the egg was laid last night or this morning but are going with Jan 31. This is 27 days earlier than our previous earliest egg.
Lots of birds this morning: blue-grey gnatcatchers in the crepe myrtles and maple, red-bellied woodpeckers swooping by the sweetgum snag, bulbul in the maple, mockingbirds chasing each other.
PM; T=68F, clear.
6:15pm, There was a squirrel lurking halfway down the nest tree until 6:15pm. We wondered if Madame owl was watching and waiting. Male owl appeared from his palm roost on the pool pump enclosure. Instead of trilling and seeking the female he hunted in the Canyon: first on the cane rack, then the fence to the front yard, then into the front yard itself, by the van Ek’s driveway.
6:24pm, female planed down out of the box, quite a bit later than previous nights. The male joined the female in the carport pecan, mated and made several roundtrips to the driveway while she waited in the hackberry for tidbits.
6:35pm, an owl was on the orchid branch, then at the water dish, sipping for about two minutes. Probably the female. She headed for the hackberry and mated again.
6:40pm, she moved to a branch in the nestbox tree over the compost. Mated again at 6:45pm.
7:50pm, Madame returned to the box.
We find it noteworthy that the male has wasted no time on box calls tonight. Mission accomplished, I guess.

January 30, 2017
Monday, 10th day in the box for the female.
AM T=48F; another clear and cool beautiful day.

6:45am, F back in the box. Male was sitting of the pool pump fence and ducked into his palm roost at 6:50am.
Both goldfinches and yellow-rumped warbler on the deck, and a sulfur butterfly at lunchtime.
PM, no evening observations. From 3pm on we were at Discovery Green at the Super Bowl live event, where Houston gets to brag on itself. Really great for science nerds. NASA had their engineers and scientists there showing off full size replicas of the Mars rover, the capsule for manned flight set for 2018 (we didn’t even know about that!) and—most spectacularly—a full size James Bell Space Telescope, the infrared one also to launch next year. Such brains and enthusiasm on display!
We did not check the owl cam before going to bed—a big oversight, as it turned out.

January 29, 2017
Sunday; most gorgeous day of the year—blue, crisp, north wind, v. low humidity.

Saw sulfur butterflies today; yellow-rumped warbler on the back deck.
No evening observations, really. We had guests over for dinner (fish creole from Tides Mag). We could hear the male on the cam obsessively advertising the lower box.

January 28, 2017
Saturday, AM T=48F; overcast and still.

F returned the high box at 6:55am
7:07am, she was in the entrance, giving a bout of 12 descending trills. We haven’t seen the male this morning.
PM; Clear cool evening is darkening later, it seems.
6:16pm; F planed down from the high box to shop hackberry, staying only for a minute before moving to the carport pecan. M showed up from the K’s backyard about 6:18pm, with mating. M moved to a low birdfeeder branch, back to the pecan, to the deck, with the female. They could have gone to the Canyon or the orchid branch, anywhere. I went to the kitchen door and saw an owl at the water dish, sipping for more than a minute.
6:20pm; Male through the Gap to the low box to give obsessive boxcalls.
6:23pm; F giving food-begging calls on St’s backyard fence. 6:38pm; M found something for her, presented it and mated, then off north again. F hopped down into the leaves on the other side of the fence, looking for more food.

January 27, 2017
day 7 in high box
Friday; AM T=42F; high, whispy cirrus thickens by 8:30.

6:30am; Male owl was in the pecan, F already in her box. Standing on the path by the shop steps I felt the male whoosh from behind me right over my head, to the vE’s pool fence and up into his palm roost—6:50am.
It is chilly on the front porch this morning.
RBWoodpeckers, a pair, at the contested hole; Wwdoves in droves; a kinglet, both cardinals—all the usual suspects.
PM; no evening observations—went to ROCO brass concert.

January 26, 2017
Thursday; AM T=49F, cloudy but pretty dawn color; NW to W wind and clouds.

6AM, Male owl is sitting on the Prius branch. Flew up the drivewayto sit in the shop hackberry for a few minutes.
6:55am, went to roost in the palm. F is inside the high box.
8:15am, kinglets in the liveoak; a pair of Carolina wrens, one sitting still(ish) in the liveoak watching the other forage in the nandina below it.
Noonish; male owl is in the palm and visible; both of us took pictures, separately.
PM, T=55F, perfectly still; some cloudiness, glowing red
6:11pm, male came off his roost to the shop hackberry. Female lagged by a minute but came also to the backyard. Instead of mating the male exited to the low box and gave four minutes of boxcalls. Female moved to the pecan, limb to limb, plaintively begging. The male finally came with a bit and , amid mutual trilling, hopped aboard. Then commenced the to and fro, branch to branch, backyard to driveway, until the male left through the gap, and the female ditto. Both of them were side by side on the fence where the east hive used to be. Male found a bit, fed and mated and flew N; female stayed where she was, then dropped straight down the far side of the fence into the rustly leaves. Eventually she hopped back up, swallowing, and the male, also successful fed her another bit and boarded for the fourth time.

January 19, 2017
Thursday, AM T=65F; rain stopped around noon.

Waxwings flying and calling morning and evening.
6:11pm; one owl flew north, straight through the driveway without stopping. Minutes later we heard both owls trilling and mating in the shop hackberry. Male owl headed for the lower box for some box advertising. After he left she hopped in, giving food-begging cries. One minute later the male was back with a katydid to feed her.
How close are we to nesting?! This behavior is starting two weeks earlier than the previous two years, which were themselves early.
Squirrel occupied the high box for the night. Low box was empty.

January 18, 2017
Wed; AM T=66F. It rained hard all night long, accumulating 6.1” by mid-morning. At 7:30 there is a 10 degree difference between IAH and Hobby airport, thanks to the stalled front right inbetween them (and right over us). White Oak is flooding Houston Ave; 45 is closed at No Main. Authorities request no travel that isn’t essential. Squirrel spent the rainy night in the high box despite urging to the contrary.
8:07am, an explosion of doves from the Cooper’s hawk flying east over the Art Park.
PM, quite dreary rain all day long, getting us up to 7”. T used the Magic Fingers around sunset to chase squirrels away from the high box. It took three times, the last two in plain sight of the female owl as she sat on the Prius branch.
6:06pm, two owls in the crepe myrtle. The male flew right away to the low box where he began a marathon session of 5 min of box calls. T
6:11pm, the female flew to the stub branch and gave quiet ‘feed-me’ calls, high-pitched and very faint short descending trills. He ignored her and continued to advertise his box. He even got down into the box and fluffed shavings. That interested her, so she joined him at the entrance, trilling. He left, heading north, leaving her to have her turn inside the box arranging shavings.
6:35pm, Female in the shop hackberry, still begging food. The male obliged her, and she allowed mating; he was off again to the K’s pecan, then back for more box-calling.
7:10pm, both owls back in the driveway again.
Notable: the female is spending a lot of time sitting, not hunting
the female is food-begging
both show lots of interest in the lower east box.
Are we close to nesting, even though it is mid-January?

January 4, 2017 Wed
PM, T=52F, expected to get colder overnight
5:40pm, T chased a squirrel out of the high box, for the 3rd time!
6:02pm, two owls on the Prius branch, seconds apart. They sat for 4 minutes without moving.
6:06pm, one flew south through the Gap, while the second flew down to perch on the lowest hackberry limb, above the Honda.
7:02pm, an owl visited the high box and spent 6 or 7 min giving box calls from the external perch.
7:08pm, got inside the box, sat on the floor and poked at shavings. 7:10pm it got up in the entrance, sat for a few seconds and left.
9:45pm, and owl in the box again, with its head out of the entrance. Gone at 10pm. Will it shelter from the cold front in the box?

January 3, 2017  Tues
PM, T=67F, 6:30pm, after a beautiful, mild clear day. Waxing crescent moon in the evening sky, with Venus below it and Mars above.
6:o4pm, owl appeard on the Prius branch. A minute later it flew through the Gap (N) toward our backyard; monotonic trill says it is the male.
6:06pm, second owl on the Prius branch, from the south; almost immediately went to the east box and gave box calls for 2 minutes. If the former owl was the male is this the female? So do females give box calls too??
6:09pm, left the box, going N. Half a minute later saw a rat run down the north slope of St’s roof and exit on the adjacent oak branch. Looks like it would be easy owl prey…
Nobody visited the high box while we watched.

January 2, 2017, Monday
7 AM, T=72°F
8:30AM the dark and muttering front moves through, T=72°

8:40AM, T=69°, blowing hard and lightning
8:50AM T=66°, windows are fogging up. Thunder is moving a bit south of us now, rain is steady and T is out in the shop with coffee and the last of the toasted corn bread.
10 AM, T=61°
After the storm front passed it turned into an absolutely gorgeous day, bright sun and deep blue sky.

4:30 PM, three dozen or more doves gathered in the pecan, breasts toward the low rays of the sun, glowing. At 5 PM the Coopers hawk chased them all out, gleaning the last rays before departing south east.
5:30 PM, chased a squirrel out of the high nest box, second day in a row.
5:50 PM, C went to the Art Park for owl time. Only one owl out, by the trill it was the female, but the hunting style and size was male. They were probably both there. Perched on the iron stake by the Art Shed, it hunted insects in the roost cherry laurel.  When I finally lost sight of it I went back across the street. Walking up the driveway I heard the box call up high! How did they beat me over here?
6:09 PM, two owls appeared on the Prius branch, within a few seconds of each other. No mating behavior however. After about 30 seconds, one owl flew up to a high hackberry branch, approximately equidistant between the high box and the boy box. This owl started giving box calls, from this middle of the driveway location that is not actually on either box. Owl #2 also moved up to a higher hackberry branch, a bit to the east of owl #1. At this point, owl 1 flew up to the high box, perched on the exterior perch and gave three minutes of box calls, while owl #2 flew to the oak on the fence line and caught a food item; returning to the Prius branch to eat it.
6:12 PM, owl #1 left the high box and flew north over the garage; owl #2 followed a few seconds later.
6:16 PM male owl returned through the gap to the Prius branch, where he gave monotonic trills. Eventually, 6:24 PM, he flew north again. We heard even more monotonic trilling later.