The camera may not lie, but it doesn’t work, either–more about that later, though. Back in December, we installed a bird camera in the nesting box for “our” Eastern Screech Owl, Megascops asio, couple.
After The Bad Squirrel Incident in April 2014, we thought it wise to keep a third eye on our Screech Owl seasonal residents. This spring, with the camera up and transmitting to our desktop and Mama in the house on a regular basis, it was fun, if not somewhat addicting, watching her preen and rest in her little nest box.
On Sunday, March 6, Mama laid her first egg.
The second egg came on Wednesday, March 9,
The eggs appeared on an every-other-day schedule and that is typical of how Screeches deliver. The egg photos were taken shortly after Mama left the house on each of those evenings. You can imagine how exciting the prospect is of observing and chronicling the owl family as it grows and develops. The gestation for Screech Owls is approximately 28 days, so by this post, if all are healthy, three owlets have hatched, with the other two hot on their heels–or shells.
Alas, there were some heavy winds here a couple of weeks ago and the camera went dark. Boo! We’ve re-configured and manipulated all the connections and wires, opened up the house (when Mama flew out for her brief foray into the night) to diagnose the camera’s issue(s), and eventually removed the camera itself for further inspection. It seems that our bird camera has simply pooped out.
This photo was taken with Bee Daddy’s cell phone during his last scramble up the ladder and tree limbs to remove the camera permanently.
Mama landed on the branch Bee Daddy straddled, just a few feet away, to keep her two big eyes on him. Once he removed the camera and we realized it’s not repairable, we decided not to interfere with the owls further this season.
I still see Mama the old-fashioned way,
…as she peeks out for a breath of fresh air, weary, and momentarily away from those hungry beaks. Just after that series of shots, Mama yawned. I don’t know if owls yawn, but that’s what it looked like to me.
Mommy-work is hard.
Dad Owl keeps a close watch each day, all day in a neighbor’s tree which is a quick swoop away if need be.
Daddy-work is hard, too.
Five growing and hungry owlets are a big responsibility. A favorite food of Screech Owls are pond toads, which there are usually plenty of in our garden, but the toads haven’t noisily appeared this year, which is odd. Toads are a ready source of “big game” food that our owls hunt directly and since they’re not yet available, I imagine the owls’ menu is consisting mostly insects and the occasional rat, mouse, or bird from wherever Dad Owl can find them. He’ll do all of the hunting until the owlets are so large that Mama can’t stay in the box and then she’ll join in the meal runs for the little ones.
The owlets will fledge in May and we’ll see (hopefully) how many of the babies have survived to that point.