Saturday, April 23, 2011

Owlets Four and Five on the 21st

Since acquiring owlet no. 4 for medical treatment, Sallie, my raptor rehabber friend, has acquired two more young screech owls, which she refers to as “screechlets” to distinguish them from the three great horned owlets, and four barn owlets she was also caring for on the night of the 21st when these photos were taken. One of the screechlets, now designated owlet no. 5, is young enough to fit in with my owlets, and will be added to the nest soon, since being raised by wild owls is always better than being raised by people. Below you can see owlet no. 4, whose face is still worse for the wear, owlet no. 5 (the soon-to-be adoptee), and an older owlet who is keeping them company.

Owlets no. 4 (left), and no. 5 (right). The owlet in the middle is too old to be adopted by my owls, but provides good company for the younger owlets.

Owlet no. 5. Out of focus, but still a good looking kid.

Owlet no. 5. Is sitting up really worth the effort?

The eldest of the screechlets in Sallie’s care. He/she is too old to fit in my with owlets, and thus won’t get to be owlet no. 6, but is a great source of company to the other screechlets.

A pair of the barn owlets that Sallie is raising. They do not like having people around; they both hissed like a punctured high-pressure gas line the whole time we were in the room with them. By the time they are adults that hiss will be ear-splitting.

The great horned owlets were enthusiastic and beautiful, but not very photographable in their crate; out of their crate, they’d’ve been quite a handful (about four handfuls, in fact).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Owlets on the 17th

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.

The action sequence: Turn head and yawn.

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.