Great Horny Owls

It’s that time again–owl nesting season! For the past few years, the highlight of my spring (and sometimes into summer) is watching live feeds of raptor nests on Ustream. In 2010 I pretty much just watched Molly & McGee and their 2 clutches of owlets. In 2011, I mostly watched Sydney & Mel’s nest–they raised a clutch of 6 owlets! I also watched Molly & McGee on occasion, and some other assorted ones. Doesn’t matter; they’re all cute. Also, they’re all barn owls. At this point, I have a pretty good beginner’s grasp on barn owl nesting habits, although of course there are always surprises. This year I’ve already started watching Dale & Roy, although Dale hasn’t laid any eggs yet. I do expect her to, because that nest box has been host to a whole lot of hawt owl-on-owl action.

Let's get it on.

Sure, it looks scary and violent–especially if you have the sound on and can hear the screeches–but in a way, it’s cute and romantic. Before and after the above screenshot, the two were preening each other–sort of the owl equivalent of making out, in this context anyway, and they spent a lot of time preening each other’s face feathers, which really did look like they were making out.

Adorable.

It’ll get even cuter when she lays eggs and spends a month caring for them, and the cuteness will explode when the eggs start hatching.

I’ve also been watching Rusty & Iris, a great horned owl breeding pair in Minnesota. They are each blind in one eye, so they can’t be released into the wild, but they are housed in a big flight cage and will hopefully start making little baby great horned owls very soon! I’ve been watching/listening to them tonight as I work on finishing this godforsaken master’s degree. I’m at the main library on campus and have the owls on the library computer and my actual academic work on my shiny new laptop. So I was writing stuff for my paper and all of a sudden, in my headphones, I hear HOO, HOO-HOO-HOO, HOO! HOO!”

I started watching, and the hooting got more frequent and turned into a duet. And then Rusty flew over to Iris and got on top of her…aaaand cue the porn music.

Note: right now, as I’m writing this, I heard weird flappy-hooty sounds, looked at the camera, and Rusty and Iris were mating AGAIN.

Anyway, hooting. Lots of it. I’m delighted by it, really, because Regulus–the GHOW at WildCare–really doesn’t ever hoot. I don’t know if he just isn’t talkative, or if it’s related to his injury, or if I’m just missing something, but all I’ve ever heard him “say” is the occasional quiet hiss (translation: GTFO). I don’t expect to get sick of all the hooting anytime soon, especially knowing that I can listen to a chorus of raspy barn owlet hisses all night with no problem. There’s something just so delightful about HOO, HOO-HOO-HOO, HOO! HOO! It’s just so very…emphatic. Great horned owls: go big or go home.

Regulus.

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Posted on 7 January 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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