Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My owl has a boyfriend.

But when I did research, it appears that it may be her *husband*. Whodathunk? Apparently most Great Horned Owls mate for life. We've seen him, but we haven't been able to get a picture of them together - they sit too far away from each other for a family picture.

I was looking for information on *how* owls mate. My husband swears they mate mid-flight. He says that either these owls were mating or having a very intense tussle in the air. I could find no information on whether owls mate in the air or not, but I did find out that they usually have laid their eggs by now, so it was probably a tussle - or completely unnecessary love-making - that my husband saw.

I also found that "They eat rodents, hares, squirrels, skunks, various birds such as geese, grouse, ducks and pigeons." I'd add cats to that list. Not *our* cats who are apparently too smart for that (you should hear my sister's story about watching our momma cat train her baby not to come out of hiding once the sun went down), but the neighbor's cats are not so used to living around birds big enough to hunt them instead of the other way around. In fact, our cats are smart enough to trick the other cats into being hunted - I watched our male cat chase a neighboring tom hell-bent for leather across our yard and under the trees where our owls lived toward the neighboring farmer's open fields. As soon as our male got under the trees he stopped dead in his tracks and let the tom run out into the fields by himself. Since it was dusk, the owl was ready to hunt and was not adverse to cat. I've never seen a hunting bird so close. That cat didn't stand a chance and I have a new appreciation for just how big those birds are.

I think our owl's babies are hatched. She lives in the trees on our front lawn and we can hear her hooting all day on overcast days. She's also hunting in the daytime - not just at night - so it seems that she's feeding more than one beak. She hides well, even with the hoots we can't see her. We probably won't see these babies until they're ready to fly.

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