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An Owl Story


Screech Owls

Screech Owls

When I am not traveling to Costa Rica absorbing nature at its finest, I am back in Houston building bird houses for our fine-feathered friends.

This is a hobby I took up in January 2013 when I was sitting in the garage trying to figure out what to do with all the old fence pickets — throw them out, or put them to a good recycled use.

I only had a circular saw, hammer and some of the usual household tools. So I really didn’t know if woodworking was really up my alley.

However, I had heard that the squirrels would soon be building nests and I thought of building a squirrel nesting box. And that’s exactly what I did. I got the dimensions off the internet and built an “okay” box. I got it up into the pine tree and waited, checking the box every now and then.

One early morning in April I climbed the ladder once again to check out my squirrel nesting box. I flipped open the door and just about fell 10′ to the ground. Out flew this large brown mass–it happened so quickly I couldn’t even focus on it–besides, I was clinging onto the ladder for dear life as I tettered backwards. I thought it was a squirrel; however, from the side of my eye I saw that not only did it soar towards the ground, it suddenly swooped up! A flying squirrel!! It disappeared into the tree. My neighbor was watching from his yard and he shouted, “Owl !” What in the world did he say?? I looked back into the box and there were three eggs, and they weren’t from a squirrel. OMG! I was so excited. I got off the ladder as quickly as I could, got my camera, and started a new photography adventure.

Screech Owl Eggs

Screech Owl Eggs

I searched the branches of the old oak tree and finally found the mama.

Screech Owl - female

Screech Owl – female

 

 

 

 

Much to my surprise she was only about 6″ tall, but the wing span was very impressive.

 

 

 

 

 

Later that evening I decided I should search the trees for the male. Yup, there he was, sitting as pretty as a picture.

Screech Owl - male

Screech Owl – male

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being the motherly type, I checked on the owl every day, talking out loud as I approached the ladder and continued talking in low tones up the ladder. I slowly opened the door and peeked in. Missy Owl would always open one eye, look at me, and go back to sleep. Since I did not know exactly when the eggs were laid, I did not know when to expect them to hatch.

May 7, 2013 THE BIG DAY

Photos are worth a million words. Don’t you think?

 

Screech Owl

Screech Owl – newborn

Baby number one was peeking out from underneath Missy Owl’s wing. I have never seen baby owls, and was quite surprised that it did not look like an owl! But he sure was a cute little feller. Over the next two days the other owls hatched — since the eggs are laid at the rate of one per day with incubation beginning immediately, they hatch one per day.

IMG_3011

Screech Owl – 2 days old

Over the next several weeks I made daily trips up the ladder to check on these fine-feathered creatures. It was amazing how quickly they grew. Two of the owlets always sat there like pillars staring at me while the smallest one would try to squeeze its way under the others, hiding its face from view.

IMG_3184

Screech Owls – 3 weeks old

At three weeks I decided it was time for individual portraits. One-by-one I took them out and got these totally cute photos.

 

Screech Owl - 4 weeks old

Screech Owl – 3 weeks old

Owlet May 30 3065sm

Screech Owl – 3 weeks old

Owlet May 28 3057sm

Screech Owl – 3 weeks old

By the time they reached five weeks of age, they were really starting to jump as best they could in the box. I knew they would fledge soon and may never see them again.

One evening I took another peek in the box and one of the owls had left. I was mortified. All I could imagine was that the dogs or cats may have gotten to it if it didn’t get airborne quickly enough. I sat on the patio late into the night watching. Finally, all of a sudden, quiet as a mouse, the owlet flew out of nowhere and landed on the box.

Screech Owl - 5 weeks old

Screech Owl – 5 weeks old

I can’t tell you how relieved I was to see its imposing eyes.

 

 

And, again, since the eggs were laid one day apart and hatched one day apart, they would probably fledge one day apart. The next day I found one of the owlets sitting on the ground and right at that moment the third owlet jumped from the box. I gathered them up and sat them up for what might be their last family photos.

Screech Owls - 5 weeks old

Screech Owls – 5 weeks old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screech Owls - 4 weeks old

Screech Owls – 5 weeks old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning I was very excited to check on the owlets. But they were gone. Again, I was so afraid for their lives. I started searching each and every branch of the oak trees and suddenly I saw these eyes glaring down at me.

Screech Owl - 5 weeks old

Screech Owl – 5 weeks old

 

It was the cutest thing I had ever seen. You can’t imagine the relief I felt.

 

For the next week the owlets remained in the tree, on the same branch. And finally, one day, they were gone.

 

I have not seen them since that time. However, in April of this year (2014) I was on the patio and happened to look up at the owl box. Guess who was sitting there as pretty as a picture? Yup, Missy Owl. It’s a good thing I had built a new box (much larger) because she was intending to make this her nursery once again.

Screech Owl - female

Screech Owl – female

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craftori

http://www.etsy.com/shop/birdexpressions


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