5/12/2017 - Day 38 Well, with a heavy heart I have to report that the owlet didn't make it through the night.
I believe it just died of natural causes, the parents were doing a good job of feeding it and caring for it but owlet mortality can be high. The female removed it from the box about 5:00 this morning.
It was a tough year, first the original female was killed by a cat just before nesting season.
Then the yearling female nested late and we only had 3 eggs only one of which hatched.
Then we had the stress of the intruder.
I'm not certain the intruder wouldn't have taken the owlet if it ever found the box unoccupied. I don't know.
We have never had a season with nesting owls that we didn't get a number of owlets to fledge so this is new and disappointing for us.
Hopefully, though, with a box in Christine's yard, and one in mine we will have better luck next year.
It was fun to watch all the activity this year we just had a bad ending.
Thanks for everyone's support and for watching. - Tim
5/11/2017 - Day 37 2 Eggs, 1 Owlet - Day 4
Last night the male showed up at about 8:35. He flew to the box and then went hunting. The female found a cached gecko in the box but she left at 8:50 with the gecko. The male came back at 8:56 with another gecko, not finding the female tried to feed it to the owlet then placed it by the owlet and left. This is pretty typical for screech owls with the male delivering full size meals while the female will tear it apart and feed it to the young. The female came back at 9:02 and worked to feed the owlet. Later the male came into the box twice with food and the female left the box again for a short break. What I think was the intruder looked in briefly at 4:55. The owlet continues to grow and there appears to be more food cached in the box.
Video of the male from outside the box.
Video of food deliveries, feeding, the male trying to feed and the female taking a break.
Video of food deliveries, feeding, the male coming in the box twice,
the female taking a break, the intruder looking in and the female working with cached food.
5/10/2017 - Day 36 2 Eggs, 1 Owlet (not to be confused with 2 eggs, one omelette)
Last night the female didn't leave at dusk like she usually does.
She took two breaks during the night one at 12:45 for 5 minutes, and one at 5:50am for 9 minutes.
An owl looked into the box at 12:28 and 2:45 that might have been the intruder or might have been the male.
The female did not react. The male delivered bugs, geckos, and a snake which the female either ate,
fed to the owlet, or deposited in a corner for later use. The owlet appears to be getting bigger as expected.
Video of the owlet from this morning.
Video of the male from outside the box delivering food.
Videos of food deliveries, feeding, someone looking in and breaks.
5/9/2017 - Day 35 2 Eggs, 1 Owlet
The owls changed their routines from feeding themselves to bringing geckos into the box to feed the owlet.
The mother will bite off a small piece and place it in the owlet's mouth. The owlets eyes are not open yet. The mother stays in the box longer with fewer breaks, sometimes she eats the food deliveries and sometimes she feeds the owlet.
The intruder was not seen last night.
Videos of the owlet and food deliveries.
Video of the male outside the box.
5/8/2017 - Day 34 2 Eggs, 1 Owlet
The weekend went about as usual with the mother leaving and returning, being fed and the intruder showing up.
I saw 3 eggs as late as 10:15 last night but this morning when I got up there was at least one owlet.
My video recorder stopped during the night so I'm not sure when it showed up. I have no clue what will happen
when the intruder shows up or if we will have enough food in the box with the two parents not catching birds.
Typically they cache food(birds) in the nest for use during the day but perhaps they can cache enough geckos and bugs.
Video of the owlet. You can hear the mother clucking and the owlet chirping.
5/5/2017 - evening - Day 31 Still three eggs
This evening the male surprised us by showing up very early. He flew to the box in broad daylight at about 8:05.
He came right into the box, probably to see if there were any owlets to feed and some bluejays were getting excited which might have chased him in as well.
He stayed in the box with the female, sitting in the doorway and then going back inside. He and the female were preened each other.
He then left at 8:23 and the female sat in the opening for a while before coming back in.
She then finally left at 8:30. The male brought a bug at 8:40 and came in the box.
The female returned at 8:57 but then what I think was the intruder showed up at 8:59 and the female attacked but noone came in.
I never saw the intruder.
The female came back at 9:14 and was fed a gecko at 9:15 a bug at 9:20 and a gecko at 9:31.
Video of the male from outside the box.
Video of the male in the box, the two owls enjoying each other's company, the male leaving.
Video of the female leaving, the male coming into the box with a bug,
the female returning, chasing the intruder, returning once again and being fed a few times.
5/5/2017 - Day 31 Still three eggs.
I found this on the net:
"Eastern Screech-Owl pairs usually are monogamous and remain together for life.
Some males, however, will mate with two different females.
The second female may evict the first female, lay her own eggs in the nest, and incubate both clutches."
Perhaps this is a second female, trying to reclutch but she evicts the first but then doesn't stay to guard the nest.
The male doesn't seem to be around as much as some, and he hasn't shown up with any prey birds at all which is strange.
They typically cache birds in the nest to feed the mother and nestlings through-out the day.
I'm not sure we are getting enough food to support this family.
He also doesn't appear to guard the nest from the intruder female.
5/5/2017 - Day 31 Still three eggs.
The intruder was back at about 5:30 this morning. First it showed up and just looked in and withdrew.
A short while later it came back, leaning into the box and finally attacked and chased the mother out.
This is a very aggressive owl, after it chased the mother out it left pretty quickly.
A really bad sign for the owl family. The intruder seemed to look at the eggs to see if they had
hatched, then attacked the mother and left quickly. Seems like predatory and territorial behavior.
Video of the intruder arriving, staredown, chasing the present female out, and finally leaving.
The present female comes back after about 16 minutes.
5/4/2017 - Day 30 Still three eggs.
The intruder was back in the middle of the night.
It appears to be a female to me and she was very aggressive working to get the present female out of the box.
She did a 4 -5 minute staredown and then came further into the box finally chasing the present female out.
She poked around the box a little, sat in the entrance, and left.
Perhaps if the present female was more mature she would be more aggressive.
The present female came back about 13 minutes after the intruder left.
The female sat in the entrance for a while this morning after the sun came up.
Video of the intruder arriving, staredown, chasing the present female out, and finally leaving.
The present female comes back and then sits in the entrance a while after the sun comes up.
5/3/2017 - Day 29 -Still three eggs and the intruder was not seen again today.
I have a new theory on the intruder. A large percentage of the time a clutch will fail for various reasons.
When that happens, the pair will often reclutch if it's early enough in the season and when
they do start another nest they typically do it at a new location. There aren't that many places to nest in the neighborhood
and there is always competition from woodpeckers, starlings, squirrels and other owls for the best spots.
The local fauna try to displace each other all the time claiming the site as their own.
Males are typically smaller than females and the intruder always looked bigger to me.
I think there is a chance the intruder is another female trying to find a new place to lay a clutch.
She seems to try and get the existing female to come out of the box.
Food is plentiful in the neighborhood; I doubt she would risk being attacked just to check the box for food.
- Just today's theory.
Video of the female leaving in the evening from the outside of the box
Video of the night's activities, being fed bugs, geckos,
leaving and returning. The male came in the box twice last night.
5/2/2017 - Day 28
It was hot here today and the female displayed their typical form of cooling behavior known gular fluttering.
The owl will open its mouth and "flutter" its neck muscles, promoting heat loss (the owl version of panting).
The male showed up at 8:31 just at dusk and the female took off seconds later.
He then went to the box perch to watch for prey.
She was fed around ten times during the night including bugs, geckos and a snake.
She left 3 times total, not long each time and we never saw the intruder.
The last time she left there were still three eggs and no signs of hatching this morning.
Video of the female leaving in the evening from the outside of the box
The male shows up on the box perch and watches for prey.
Video of the female displaying her cooling technique, leaving for the night and returning. Being fed.
Video of the night's activities, being fed bugs, geckos and a snake.
Leaving and returning.
5/1/2017 - Day 27
The male showed up in the evening and flew to a tree in front of the box. The female then flew out to join him
and they almost immediately took off to the back of my property together. Ten minutes later she returned and he fed her a bug shortly after.
About 5 minutes later what I think was the intruder looked in and the female just looked at it. It is possible it was the male
looking in without food for her and she just looked at him but I don't think so. I think she would have risen up to see if he had something but I don't know.
The owl left fairly quickly thereafter without incident.
The male showed up with 7 food deliveries as far as I can tell and they were all from 8:30 to 11:45pm.
The female left the box 4 times and she was gone for an average of 20 minutes each time.
If the first egg is fertile it should hatch very soon. It usually takes 26-30 days and we are at 27 today.
If there is an owlet I can usually hear it chirping before I see it.
Video of the female leaving in the evening from outside the box, and the male flying by.
Video of her leaving a few times, coming back, being fed a snake, a gecko and bugs, and the what is possibly the intruder looking in.
4/30/2017 - Day 26
We had storms go through Austin last night. We got almost no rain, which is typical,
but we had very high winds for most of the night. This affected the hunting activity for the owls.
Fewer food deliveries than usual (4), 3 geckos and 1 bug. I'm sure the insects were hard to see or catch with the high winds.
The female left the box 4 times, most of the absences being short except for one in the middle of the night
which was 44 minutes long.
The intruder did not visit, possibly due to the weather conditions.
On one part of the video you can see the eggs rolling as the box is being blown around.
We should be at 26 days today so the first egg could hatch at any time.
Video of the female leaving, coming back, a few feedings and the eggs rolling around as the wind blows.
4/29/2017 - Day 25
I let the recorder run all night again just to see what all happened.
There were feedings at 8:54, 9:35, 9:46, 9:54, 10:00, 1:02, 1:05, 2:02, 2:07, 2:14,2:53, 4:07, 5:31 and 5:51.
9 bugs and 5 geckos
The female left at 8:45, 8:54, 3:46, 5:53 and 6:23
At 3:04 what I think was the intruder looked in but the female didn't budge.
It looked like he was trying to bait her to chase but she stayed in place
which is a different and apparently effective behaviour for her.
It might have been the male but I don't think so.
Videos of the female leaving and coming back as well as feedings and what I think is the intruder looking in.
4/28/2017 - Day 24
I watched the male owl hunt in the yard last night just as it was getting dark.
He stayed pretty low which is probably typical for bug and gecko hunting.
The female sat in the opening for a while and finally left right at dark.
The intruder came again and she chased him away.
It was hot today and the female showed it, sitting upright a good portion of the day, the eggs being fine without her on them.
Video of the female leaving, the male showing up with a
snake and something else pretty big, and the female returning.
4/27/2017 - Day 23
I left the recorder run all night just to see what a typical night was for the owls. Unfortunately, the intruder is still showing up and is still aggressive.
This certainly does not bode well for owlet survival. This story could end tragically but is out of our control.
Hopefully the parents will be vigilant but they have to be gone from the box for a while.
The intruder seems to bait them, get them to come out, then he goes back inside.
At 12:54 the intruder showed up and was chased away by the female. At 1:15 she came back.
She was then fed by the male at 2:05, 2:29, 2:58, 3:09, 3:46, and 3:58. Mostly bugs.
She then left at 6:11 and then returned at 6:16. At 6:18 the intruder appeared to return and she chased him out.
At 6:26 she returned. At 6:35 he returned again and once again she chased him out.
At 6:40 he came in the box and rooted around leaving pretty quickly and at 6:45 she returned and settled in on the eggs for the day.
Video of the night's activity. The female being fed and the intruder showing up a number of times.
4/26/2017 - Day 22 I got up this morning at 5:00am and turned on the recorder. The female left the box at
5:47am and returned 15 minutes later. The Male then showed up and fed her a gecko at 6:06am.
She remained in the box for the rest of the daylight hours.
In the evening the male flew around the backyard hunting from the back fence at about 8:12pm.
It was very winding tonight so the fence was probably a solid perch to hunt from.
He flew up to the box at 8:25pm and the two owls left together.
The male looked in at 9:00 and the female returned at 9:05. The male then fed her at 9:33, 9:49, 10:26 and 10:49 mostly bugs but at least one gecko.
No sign of the intruder tonight once again.
Video of the female leaving the box in the morning, returning and being fed a gecko.
Also leaving and returning in the evening and being fed a number of times including bugs and a gecko.
Another short video from outside of the male showing up and the two owls leaving together.
4/25/2017 - Day 21 So far no sign of the intruder tonight by 9:15.
The male was seen hunting in the yard at 8:02 and the female left at 8:19.
The male looked into the box at 8:40 and the female came back at 8:45.
The male then showed up with a gecko at 9:01 but didn't give it to her.
Why I don't know. There was an airplane flying over, maybe that bothered him.
Video of the female moving into the entrance from outside and then going back in.
Then leaving a little while later.
Another Video of the female moving into the entrance and then dropping back in, then leaving.
The male looks in briefly, the female comes back, the male brings a gecko but doesn't give it to her,
4/24/2017 - Day 20 All seems ok in the owl box today after the evenings excitement. I will be watching tonight to see if the intruder comes back or if
the owls change their behaviour in any way. The ground below the box did have some significant feathers from the mother attacking the intruder but that didn't stop it from coming back a little
Evening report- We saw the male and heard him trilling about 10 feet from the box at 8:15 this evening. The female left after dark at 8:29, the male showed up with a bug at 8:37. The intruder from the previous night showed up at 8:53, he looked around the box jumped in scratched around for food and left. His body posture is very different from the other two owls. The male showed up with a gecko at 8:58 so not long after the third owl left and the femle returned at 9:04. Traffic was heavy for a while but no one was there at the same time.
Video from last night of the mother leaving the box just before dark. Another video of the female leaving, the male showing up with a bug, the intruder looking around, the male with a gecko, and the female returning.
4/23/2017 - Day 19 We had an eventful night tonight. First all went according to schedule.
Starlings looked in the box during the day, then the male showed up with no food just as it was starting to get dark and the female left
almost immediately with him. She then returned and the male fed her a gecko.
Later a third owl showed up and looked into the box. The female appeared to be scared and retreated away from the entrance,
showing that it was not her mate. The intruder stayed quite a while and finally the female chased it away, with her leaving the box as well.
The intruder came back and went into the box, rooting around on the floor looking for food. It finally left and the female returned a bit later to
sit on her unharmed eggs.
Video of starlings looking in the box, the male showing up with nothing,
the two owls leaving then the female returning and the male feeding her a gecko. Also a video of the third owl showing up, checking out the box the female retreating then chasing the intruder away,
the intruder coming into the box and poking around on the bottom and then leaving.
The female returns to sit on the eggs.
4/23/2017 - Day 19 Not a lot of seen action last night. The male brought the female a snake and she left for her break immediately after. She then returned fairly quickly.
To attract the owls to our yard I keep the backyard birdbath filled with water every night. This is especially helpful during the hot dry summer months in central Texas. If we watch in the very early morning or just after dark in the evening we can often see the owls come and take a drink. I raise the birdbath base about 20 inches off the ground with 12-inch square cement pavers to help guard against cat predation.
Video of the male bringing the female a snake.
She then leaves and returns to settle back in on the eggs.
4/22/2017 - Day 18 We had a bit of a kerfuffle last night.
The male showed up about 7:40 when it was still very light out and he landed on the owl box perch to check on the female.
Almost immediately a blue jay showed up calling loudly in aggression apparently with a nest close by. The male owl dove into the box for protection and stayed there for only a few seconds. He then took off with the blue jays in pursuit.
We could hear the blue jays calling for a while afterwards. The female remained in the box much later than she usually does for her evening break.
Video of the female moving around, jumping up into the entrance, being fed by the male while sitting in the entrance,
and then leaving for her evening break. The female then returning and the male bringing a bug for her.
4/21/2017 - Day 17 We had a scare last night. The female left for her typical evening break and did not return immediately. The male came looking for her and seemed confused when she was not there so we were very relieved when she finally came back about three hours later.
We see their patterns of behavior and think they will follow that every night but that is not the case. The previous female was killed by a cat just a few months before the nesting season which is why we have a yearling this year (we believe). I try to keep my yard cat-free by shutting all my gates but that is no guarantee, and, of course, they hunt in the neighbors yards as well. Christine's owls hunt birds mostly so that probably keeps them in the trees while mine hunt geckos and bugs which puts them on the ground, open to cat predation.
Video of the female moving around, sitting in the entrance, coming back in and then leaving for her evening break. The male looking for her in the box during her abscence, bringing a bug for her.
4/20/2017 - Day 16 The female continues to sit on the eggs and the male continues to feed her. Sometimes he shows up immediately in the evening
and other times he comes much later. Once he shows up he usually feeds her a few times in a row. There are occasions late at night when he almost appears to need to convince her to
take the food, she just appears full.
Video of the female leaving for her evening break from the outside of the box.
4/18/2017 - Day 14 We had a starling look into the box today at 11:37am. The female usually just looks up and doesn't do anything. The intruders usually see her in there
and leave fairly quickly. They look for places to have a nest and (as they did this year)they take nest material out of the box for their own nests. They removed about half the nesting material I put in the box this year.
I got a shot of both the male and the female outside the box this evening. It was very dark when the images were taken(about 8:30).
4/17/2017 - Day 13 We had our usual characters look into the box today during the daylight hours including a starling at 10:07am and a red-bellied woodpecker at 11:53.
There is always competition for good homes in urban areas which is why the little owls will find a spot to nest and stay in there for sometimes months before laying eggs just to guard
against squatters. The biggest threat is from squirrels which we fought for years with boxes attached to trees. We have watched a few squirrel families grow up in our owl boxes - they unfortunately have a tendancy to
chew up camera wiring. Now with the box on a pole and a slick - no climb stove pipe attached the main worry is from nesting starlings. Tonight things happened quickly. The female left at 8:04 and the male arrived at 8:10. Just after he left at 8:11
the female came back. She was then fed at 8:12, 8:14, 8:16, 8:18, 8:19, 8:25 and 8:29 - all were bugs.
Video of the female leaving for her evening break, the male looking in,
the female returning and finally the female being fed a number of bugs.
4/16/2017 - Day 12 We still have not seen the owls bring in a rodent or bird yet. Perhaps when the owlets are growing the parents will go for something more substantial.
Tonight the female crawled into the entrance at 8:05 staying for a while but then went back in to sit on the eggs. The male was seen at the back of the property flying around at 8:11, just as it was getting dark.
The female then left the box at 8:18. The male showed up at the box at 8:22 with a bug to feed her, he looked around and left. Both owls were then seen hunting in the backyard, flying into the
the trees to low branches and then diving to the ground for prey. They sat together on the birdbath for a while and then resumed hunting until 8:31 when the female returned to the box.
The male showed up at 8:55 for the first feeding with a gecko and later with three more geckos at 9:33, 10:04, and 10:31.
Video of the female sitting in the hole, coming back inside, then leaving for her evening break,
the male looking in, the female returning and finally the female being fed two geckos.
4/15/2017 - Day 11 The male was not seen for a while this evening. We've had this before but it's always a worry because they seem to follow definite routines each night.
He finally showed up and fed the female at 10:15, 10:52, 10:57, 11:02 and 11:41. All feedings appeared to be bugs so maybe he tried to get geckos and had no luck early in the evening and decided to change his quarry.
Video of the female leaving,returning and being fed twice.
4/14/2017 - Day 10 We had our first egg on the 4th of April and our eggs have historically hatched in about
28 days so that puts us to May 2nd to see the first owlet. Then they take about 28 days to fledge so that would be on the 30th of May. These times can vary a great deal
but are pretty typical for us. Considering there are only 3 eggs (we usually have 5) that would mean each owlet gets more food than usual which could speed the process up a little.
Urban existance is tough on the little screech owls though and sometimes the owls loose a clutch but hopefully all will go well. We have had great luck in the past.
4/13/2017 - Day 9 All is on schedule in the owlbox. The days are not too warm yet which helps
because the enclosed box can get hot. The female's tail feathers are shorter than most owls we have seen, leading us to believe she is a yearling. Yearlings typically have smaller clutches.
I watched the female leave tonight at about 8:15 taking a picture of her in the entrance from outside. She disappeared for a while and then came back to the bird bath just below the box. The male showed up a minute later. They drank some water, and the male flew up and looked in the box. He then flew back down to her and after a few minutes they left one after the other for the back of the property.
She returned about 8:25 and settled back in on the eggs. The male quickly fed her at 8:45 and 8:50. She also had food delivered in the form of a bug and a gecko at 9:23 and 10:11.
Videos of the female sitting in the box chirping, the female leaving and returning for the night.
The male looking in when she was gone, and the male feeding her.
4/12/2017 - Day 8 We were gone for the most part tonight but all seems well in the owlbox. The female does a good job of sitting on the eggs,
sometimes one rolls out but she pulls them back under herself after a short while. I believe this is the same male we have had for a while. He is a good hunter but his usual prey appears to be
bugs and geckos. This is in contrast to the male in Christine's yard who hunts small birds primarily. Christine's box is full of feathers.
A video of the female adjusting the eggs and settling in over her clutch.
Also the male feeding the female a bug and a snake.
4/11/2017 - Day 7 The female sat on the eggs and slept during the intermittent rain that fell today. In the evening she left the box at 8:11 and returned at 8:21.
The male came looking for her and fed her at 8:38. Still three eggs which is a nice amount for a yearling mother. We typically have had 5 eggs but those were with more mature females. The male
fed her again at 8:45,9:23 and 11:03. Bugs and geckos again tonight.
Three videos of the male feeding the female and her taking her evening break.
4/10/2017 - Day 6 During the day the female dutifully sat on the eggs looking bored at times. In the evening she left the box at 8:10 and returned at 8:36.
The male came looking for her at 8:23 while she was gone. Still three eggs. The male
fed her at 8:57,9:21,10:28 and 11:03. Bugs and geckos were on the menu tonight.
Two videos of the male feeding the female.
4/9/2017 - Day 5 Female left the box at 8:15 and returned at 8:34. Still three eggs. The male
fed her at 8:52 and 9:32.
A video of the female settling in on her eggs.
|4/8/2017 - Day 4 The Female left at 8:11 this evening and when she left three eggs were observed. At 8:15 the male showed up with a gecko for the female. He looked around and left. The female returned at 8:42. She left again at 9:07 and returned at 9:14. The male was observed feeding the female 3 times in the evening the primary food being geckos.|
|4/7/2017 - Day 3 Still 2 eggs observed. The Female left at 8:08 tonight and returned at 9:26pm|
|4/5/2017 - Day 1 2 eggs observed. The Female stays in the nest almost continually with only short absences at night.|
|4/4/2017 - First egg Finally today an egg is observed. The Female stays in the nest almost continually but was gone quite a while at night. She left at 8:04 and did not return untill after 11:30. She was there in the morning.|
|3/31/2017 It's getting pretty late in the season for nesting. Typically the owls nest from the middle of February through the end of March. The Female is a yearling however, and this being her first mating season she may nest up to a week later than mature birds. The owls often are not in the box much now and the nesting season may be over.|
|3/7/2017 Owls guard box/nest site staying in box during the day except on the warmest days.|
1/6/2017 Owl spent first day in box.
A video of the female calling to the male
|11/25/2016 Raised new box on a squirrel proof pole.|
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