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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nellie has 2 babies!!!!

Dr. Rob stopped by Thursday night to try to find Nellie's nest again. When he clicked his key to lock the car, Nellie heard the sound and came right away. He barely had time to set up the platform with the mouse and Nellie was there immediately and flew to one of her babies to give it the mouse. We all went to see where she flew and saw Nellie and her baby and then another baby. Rob put another mouse out and Nellie didn't even wait for us to give her some room-she flew within 2 feet of us and grabbed the second mouse to give to the other owlet. They are on the Duke Mansion grounds. As you go up the driveway by the brick columns, jus as you turn left they were in the mass of pine trees. Right now they are branching which means just that. They practice flying by hop/jump/flying from branch to branch. Usually mom shows them they way and they follow. By now it's hard to tell which direction they went because there are so many trees they could follow. They could be still on the Duke grounds or around Edgehill Park or the back yards of the people on Edgehill. They way to find them is to look up and listen. The babies are very demanding at this point and cannot hunt for themselves yet (fly first, then hunt) so mom and dad are feeding them as well as themselves. You can listen for the sound of the owlets crying to see where they are. You can listen for crows as they are the ones that most often chase the owls away from the trees. They are unrelenting. You can also listen for the cardinals as they will sound the alarm for the other birds that a predator is near. When you hear these sounds, look up to find them. Remember that as predators, part of their cunning is that they fly silently so you will never hear them approach-usually it's the other birds that let you know. You will also hear more from Ned and Nellie. As the babies cry for food, they often hoot at each other to see where they are and whose turn is it. They should be around for another 3-4 weeks before they have to find their own territory and separate from mom and dad.
On another note, we have kept the camera on to watch the family of squirrels who moved in. Because of the camera angle, we never see much of them but now they are big enough to be jumping around while mom tries to keep them in the box but they don't listen. It won't take Ned and Nellie long to figure that out. We also found out we have several flying squirrels around. They are nocturnal so we don't often get a chance to see them but they are flying around lots. The best surprise was a raccoon who decided to check out the box. Other than the great horned owl and cars, barred owls really have no predators themselves but raccoons will eat owl eggs. Many of Dr. Rob's nests have raccoon guards around them and we will have to add one. You have to wonder if maybe that is why Nellie decided not to nest there-maybe she saw the raccoon hanging around...
And the last thing is a really good book that a friend gave to me about owls. It has the best drawings I've seen and has 20 pages all about the barred owl. The title is The Owls of North America by Allan Eckert and illustrated by Karl Karalus published in 1974 by Doubleday. Ebay has several copies and Amazon has several used copies at very good prices.

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