Monday, March 26, 2012

Egg no. 1 for 2012

I took down the nest box last night, March 25, not long after Mme. Owl exited for the evening. (Incubation of the eggs generally waits until the second or even third egg is laid, so Mme. Owl still has her nights free, provided they don’t become dangerously cold.) Debris deposited in the nest box by starlings was blocking the side vent (visible in the lower right hand corner of the far wall, a position that should maximize its utility for ventilation, but can lead to it being buried, which cancels-out its utility). So, I removed the obstructing materials, cleaned the camera compartment windows, adjusted the lighting to be more consistent across the whole interior, and took the opportunity to photograph egg no. 1.

Egg no. 1 cradled in a rubber ring, and bracketed by a 90° measuring device ruled in inches.

Looks like a good screech owl egg to me. (BTW, the 90° measuring device—can’t remember the tool’s name—is not bent or warped; photographing hand-held I just couldn’t make the focal plane of the camera precisely parallel to the surface on which the egg and measuring device were resting, so the geometry is distorted.)

To more precisely quantify the state of eggs in the future, I’ve ordered a micrometer and a small, high-sensitivity scale. Disturbing the nest on a regular basis is not part of my plans, but, when it’s necessary for some compelling reason, I’ll obtain all the measurements of eggs or owlets that I can. (BTW, micrometers and sensitive scales used to be expensive items; not so anymore.)

The only worrisome part of last night’s process was that when Mme. Owl returned to the nest around 5 AM (?) this morning, the first thing she did was kick and push the bedding material around to recreate a depression for the current egg and those to come. In doing so, she buried egg no. 1 and couldn’t find it for several hours. So, my female this year either has to work on her common sense, or there’s so little light in the nest box at night that even an owl can’t see clearly. [Additional: It has also been suggested by Sallie the raptor rehabber that owl near-field vision has some shortcomings, and that that may have been a factor.] That said, as someone who can walk the ten feet from my desk to the kitchen and arrive in the kitchen with no clue why I went there, I can’t really criticize Mme. Owl.

Work continues to get the normal web site up. Unfortunately, there’s still some potentially troublesome software development to perform. However, the fact that a lot of people are waiting anxiously for the normal web site’s return is never far from my mind. I’ll get it going as soon as I can; that may turn out to be easy or hard based on the work done so far; there’s still room for rude surprises (or relatively quick and easy success, if you really want to risk being optimistic).


  1. Susan G.10:20 AM CDT

    Chris- your attention to detail is amazing and everyone loves the owls so whatever you put up will be more than entertaining and informative. On another note, did you say your friend Chris was going to make the i-app work? It still shows last year's owl April 15th when you click on view recent photo. thanks

  2. I love the anecdote about how, in her zeal to fix the place up nice, the Missus misplaced her egg. Must've been a metaphor there somewhere, or an allegory, but I forget.

  3. Susan G.,

    The problem that Chris Cooley's iPhone app faces is that it reads and presents the same updated-every-minute images that the traditional web interface does (albeit in a much more convenient format for mobile viewing). So, Chris and his app can't do anything until I get those images flowing again.