Great Horned Owlet Walks Around the Neighbourhood

On April 23 the Owlets were still in the nest, looking far less fluffy and much more feathery!

Their ‘ear’ tufts were more visible too. Owl experts don’t really know what the purpose is for these feathery tufts. They don’t have anything to do with how well the owl hears since an owl’s ears are on the side of the head, not the top!

The first owlet left the nest on April 25. Several alert neigbours reported seeing the young owl walking from one front yard to another!

I finally caught the ‘walking owl’ in action at dusk on April 27. The owlet was perched on a rock, then hopped down and continued it’s walkabout.

One parent owl was in a nearby palm tree hooting, while the second parent distributed the evening meal.

One owlet was still in the nest, maybe enjoying how roomy it’s quarters are now.

On April 28 the owlet in the nest was still looking down from it’s high perch.

The Adaptability of Great Horned Owls

Now that I’ve watched baby Great Horned Owls in both Alberta and Arizona, I realize there are differences in the behaviour of the owlets once they leave the nest. In Alberta, the owlets learned to fly from spruce branch to spruce branch. They didn’t spend time on the ground until much later when they were learning to hunt. The Arizona owlets are starting at ground level and will only become tree dwellers if they can hop/climb up something, or when their wings are strong enough to get them airborne!

Some interesting things I’ve found about Great Horned Owls.

– though an owl might dive at cats, dogs and people if they have a nest
in the area, it is unlikely they would take a dog or cat to eat. They
cannot lift much more than their own body weight, which is 2-3 pounds. Apparently it is urban legend that birds of prey hunt pets…

– an adult owl will have a wingspan of just under 4 feet. The female owl
will be bigger than the male.

Great Horned Owlets in April

Update on the Owlets:

Rescued Great Horned Owlet at the Raptor Centre on April 7.

The Great Horned Owl (that nested in the Palm Tree in our front yard) laid four eggs. One egg ‘escaped’ the nest, so didn’t hatch. Three owlets hatched, but one fell out of the nest when it was about 2 weeks old. I rescued it and gave it to a Raptor Center to raise.

The two remaining owlets are growing quickly. Feathers are replacing the fuzzy down. Watch the transition below:

Great Horned Owlet April 10
Great Horned Owlet April 17
Great Horned Owlets April 21

The Drop Zone
The downside to having an owls nest in our front yard is the mess. You can see the accumulating owl droppings (at nest height) in the photo above. At ground level, there are more droppings, owl pellets (regurgitated bones, fur and feathers), and for some reason two dead rodents…

The Camera
All photos were taken with a Canon Powershot SX50 HS camera. It has a single fixed superzoom lens. That means I can fill the photo with the owlet’s face while standing across the street.

Great Horned Owl Nest Timeline:
March 5 – mother owl is sitting on the nest. One egg has escaped the nest. (incubation time is 28-35 days.)
March 24 – broken egg found at base of tree. Owlets have hatched?
April 4 – first sighting of owlets, nearly 2 weeks after probable hatching.
April 7 – Owlet falls out of nest and is relocated to Raptor Center.
April 22 – Owlets starting to exercise wings. They move to the shady side of the tree during the heat of the afternoon.

The owlets might stay in the nest for about 6 weeks after hatching, though they could try to fly to nearby branches when about 5 weeks old. After they have left the nest, they may also be seen walking around on the ground for awhile before they can fly. The parents will continue to feed them for some time.

Thoughtsss of Sssnake

Snakes have emerged from their winter nap in Arizona. Here is how one snake (a harmless gopher snake) interacted with the non-toxic traps that are reducing the number of digging rodents (that were turning our yard into swiss cheese…)


Ratsss, Ssskewered. Sssun baked in a Ssslate dark oven. Boxxxed to go!

Sssweet and juicccey,  a gassstonomissstsss treasssure. Ssslither into thisss hole.

Big sssnakey bite – but the boxxx  won’t let go of my sssupper! Reverssse! Reverssse!

Ssso clossse! A mouth full of fur for my effortsss!

Sssearching elssswhere for my nexxxt Sssquare meal.

Tom Swifties Quotations #3

A ‘Tom Swifty’ is a play on words. It usually starts with a quotation, followed by an adverb that describes how Tom was speaking. (For more Tom Swifties, and a brief history of this type of parody, see Tom Swifties Quotations #1 and Tom Swifties Quotations #2.

“All right — we’ll use a water solution”, Tom acquiesced.

“And to think I swallowed that lie, hook, line and sinker!” Tom gulped.

“Eating uranium can cause strange effects,” said Tom brightly.

“Honey, put on that see-through thing,” said Tom negligently.

“How do you start a model-T Ford without a battery?” asked Tom crankily.

“I always eat at McDonald’s,” said Tom archly.

“I am NOT full of hot air,” Tom belched.

“I collect fairy tales,” said Tom grimly.

“I didn’t look at all!” Tom peeped.

“I haven’t had any tooth decay YET,” said Tom precariously.

“I hope you’re not afraid of needles,” Tom injected.

“I just got a job putting up steel girders!” Tom beamed.

“I know what a bunch of lions is called,” said Tom with pride.

“I like ragged margins,” said Tom without justification.

“I’ll try to dig up a couple of friends,” said Tom gravely.

“I’m going to sue my real estate agent for not warning me the prairies were so flat,” said Tom plaintively.

“I’m on welfare,” said Tom dolefully.

“I think I’ll put new stuffing in that old settee,” said Tom fill-a-sofa-cally.

“It’s not a candy mint, it’s a breath mint,” Tom asserted.

“I’ve run out of laundry detergent,” said Tom cheerlessly.

“I will NOT finish in fifth place,” Tom held forth.

“Looks like rain,” said Tom precipitously.

“Nice mirror!” said Tom reflectively.

“Now where did I put that magazine?” Tom asked periodically.

“Of course I can make armour out of chains,” Tom replied by mail.

“She even flies her own jet,” Tom leered.

“The door’s ajar,” said Tom openly.

“The train’s late,” Tom railed.

“This bud’s for you,” said Tom lightly.

“Why shouldn’t I stir my yoghurt with a ballpoint pen?” Tom bickered.

“Y’all, I’m leavin’,” said Dolly, partin’.

“Zoos are a necessary evil, I think,” said Tom cagily.

Last but not least, this contribution from Al at Cvillean: “Shocked at having been diagnosed with laryngitis, Tom was left speechless.”

Great Horned Owl – Rescuing an Owlet

In my previous post about the Great Horned Owl nest in our palm tree, I introduced the First Owlet.

Over the next few days we saw at least two more baby birds.

In the photo above there are two owlets to the right of the unhatched egg, and one just above the egg. I don’t think there are more than that, but time will tell!

In this photo, one owlet settles in to it’s temporary home in an Amazon Prime cardboard box lined with a fluffy white towel. The baby bird fell out of the nest. I found it sitting on the road near the bottom of the palm tree. It could not walk or hop very far without tipping over.

There was no way I could get the baby back into the nest and it was much too young to live without the warmth and care of the mother owl. I didn’t know how long the bird had been on the ground, but I knew there were many predators nearby. So I donned my trusty leather gardening gloves, quickly found the box, took a deep breathe – and gently guided the bird into a safer place.

I’m not sure whose heart was beating faster now – the bird’s or mine! For such a small bundle, it had a big beak and long sharp talons – and it was not happy with me at all! We both calmed down once the owlet was safely in the box and I had added a fluffy towel so the bird had something to hold onto. I closed the  flaps on the box (many thanks to the box maker because when the flaps are closed there is a large enough gap to allow good ventilation.)

The baby owlet being held by a person at the ‘Wild at Heart’ Raptor Center.

Several hours later The Car Guy and I delivered the bird to the Arizona Wild at Heart rescue center. An experienced staff member checked the baby for broken bones, gave it a rehydration needle, then explained their baby raptor program to us.

They will care for the owlet in their ‘wild fostering’ program. The baby will be raised by another Great Horned Owl – a foster parent – that will feed it, teach it to avoid humans and predators, how to communicate and hunt. The baby will not imprint on people and as long as it grows up to be a healthy bird, it will be released into the wild when it is mature enough.

I sure know a lot more about baby owls now (they really don’t smell that great when they have been in a box for a short while…) So, although it is exciting to have a nest of baby birds nearby, sometimes it comes with the obligation to make sure that ‘No bird is left behind’.

 

Great Horned Owlet – First Photos

The Great Horned Owl that is nesting in a palm tree in our yard (in Arizona) has successfully ‘hatched’ at least one owlet.

The photo above shows Mother Owl with the small white bundle of feathers  that is the owlet. Near the bottom centre of the photo is the egg that escaped from the nest.

This photo shows the baby more clearly. The round black area is the eye. We think the owlet is almost 2 weeks old now.

This photo shows the owlet’s already impressive beak!

The Arizona Owl Family:

The Alberta Owl Family:
In 2018 we watched what we thought was a once in a lifetime event! A Great Horned Owl nested in a tree in our front yard. We first saw the three owlets when they had left the nest and were venturing out onto a branch each day as they prepared to fly for the first time.

Crochet Scrumble – Strawberry Fields

The Colour inspiration for this Scrumble (crochet motifs stitched together) was Caron Simply Soft Paints Rose Garden Yarn. When the Scrumble was complete, it felt more like Strawberries, however, than Roses… so I called it Strawberry Fields.

The song, Strawberry Fields Forever, was written by John Lennon and released by The Beatles in 1967. There is a New York  memorial to John Lennon in Central Park – called Strawberry Fields. It is near the Apartment where he was living when he died in 1980. A website, centralpark.com, says he was ‘murdered and shot dead’… rather an odd way of phrasing it.

Here are some of the pieces that make up this Scrumble:

Multicoloured Spiral with bullion stitches and curly cues
Basic circle flower with curly cue petals
Green leaf with bullion stitch and curly cues
Hyperbolic plane with basket filled with curly cues
Hyperbolic circle with a ball in the middle.

Hyperbolic Crochet

The last two motifs are examples of Hyperbolic Crochet. A hyperbolic plane is a geometric construct where the surface space curves away from itself at every point. Examples of real life hyperbolic planes are corals, the leaves of some kinds of lettuce and ruffles.

In the crochet motifs, I started with a crocheted line in the first one and a circle in the second. After the first row, I increased each subsequent row at a constant rate. For example, if my first row was 6 stitches and I choose to triple the stitches, then my second row was 18 stitches; my third row was 54 stitches, etc. The piece quickly becomes very time consuming to complete a row.

My other Scrumbles:

Erma Bombeck Quotations

As a graduate of the Zsa Zsa Gabor School of Creative mathematics, I honestly do not know how old I am.

Do not take the chill off the room by turning the iron to the cotton setting.

Encourage independence in your children by regularly losing them in the supermarket.

Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.

I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

I don’t know why no one ever thought to paste a label on the toilet-tissue spindle giving 1-2-3 directions for replacing the tissue on it. Then everyone in the house would know what Mama knows.

I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.

I have seen my kid struggle into the kitchen in the morning with outfits that need only one accessory: an empty gin bottle.

I learned the importance of a man’s chair early in life. I learned that he may love several wives, embrace several cars, be true to more than one political philosophy, and be equally committed to several careers, but he will have only one comfortable chair in his life. I learned it will be an ugly chair. It will match nothing in the entire house. It will never wear out.

I’m trying very hard to understand this generation. They have adjusted the timetable for childbearing so that menopause and teaching a sixteen-year-old how to drive a car will occur in the same week.

I never leaf through a copy of National Geographic without realizing how lucky we are to live in a society where it is traditional to wear clothes.

It is fast approaching the point where I don’t want to elect anyone stupid enough to want the job.

I was browsing in a bookstore recently when I came across a book on child raising. It was a thin little volume of about fifteen or twenty pages that used the word “love” on every page and “reinforcement of self-esteem” on every other page. I leafed through it several times looking for the word that no parent should raise a child without: “No.” It wasn’t there. Mistake.

My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

My mom has a plaque just inside her front door that reads, “If we get to drinking Sunday afternoon and start insisting that you stay over until Tuesday, please remember we don’t mean it.”

My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?

Never have more children than you have car windows.

Once you see the drivers in Indonesia you understand why religion plays such a big part in their lives.

One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.

Sometimes I can’t figure designers out. It’s as if they flunked human anatomy.

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence.

The hippopotamus is a vegetarian and looks like a wall. Lions who eat only red meat are sleek and slim. Are nutritionists on the wrong track?

There is no known navy-blue food. If there is navy-blue food in the refrigerator, it signifies death.

There is one thing I have never taught my body how to do and that is to figure out at 6 A.M. what it wants to eat at 6 P.M.

When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911.

When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.