As people following my notes on the screech owl cam’ page will be aware, on the 17th I brought down the nest box mid-afternoon in order to remove a worrisome build-up of what appeared to be fire ants (the small, vicious, invasive species we have here in central Texas; not the big, relatively relaxed natives that live further north in Texas). Needless to say, I took the opportunity to photograph the owlets on this occasion.
The scene when the nest box was opened. It may be a mess, but it’s home.
One box of owlets to go.
Removing the ants from the nest box meant removing the owlets, too. As long at they were all together, they didn’t mind. Also, it was a lot cooler in the open air and shade than it had been in the nest box. They didn’t mind that, either.
Their mother, by the way, watched all of this with remarkable calm from perches on various tree limbs, all within about 25 feet of the owlets and me. I’d hoped she’d be able to stay around to oversee the entire process, and thus see that I would not do anything to harm her owlets, but birds chased her away long before the process was complete. And, since owlet no. 4 had to go in for medical care, she probably does regard me as a threat now. Oh well. If it’s a choice between helping an owlet and being trusted, I’ll help an owlet every time.
Owlet no. 1
I am no longer interesting, but the just-noticed, great big outside world is fascinating. All further attempts to get the owlet to look at me or the camera fail completely.
Owlet no. 2
When it’s nap time, any comfy place will do.
Owlet no. 3
“Whatever. Just let me sleep.”
Owlet no. 4
I really thought this little one had been a victim of the fire ants, and when I emailed a similar photo to my raptor rehabber friend, Sallie, she was on her way to give owlet 4 all the help she could (and to give the others a once-over while she was at it). Since being taken into Sallie’s care, it has been discovered that most of what looks so awful in this photo is a bloody cedar waxwing feather that had dried across the owlet's eyes, gluing itself firmly in place. The feather was removed with great care, and the damage from the feather and the parasites appears superficial, although we wait anxiously for no. 4 to open his/her eyes and lay all lingering concerns to rest.