This is becoming quite a soap opera. Saturday night I heard hooting in our neighbor's back yard so I set up the boom box, got the mouse, camera and waited. Nothing. After I bang my head against the wall, at some point I will say, "Owww!" I decided to set up the platform in the back yard where I knew the owl to be. Boom box. Mouse on platform. Go to get the camera and before I could even turn, the owl came and grabbed the mouse. I followed the owl around for about an hour (I know...I need a job.) She just hung around moving the mouse from her beak to her feet like she was playing. After about 30 minutes, he went to a low, private branch and swallowed the mouse whole (only after enjoying the head by itself-she must have been watching how cats eat...) It took her two tries as that was a well fed mouse. I turned my head and she flew away and when I went looking for her, she was not 10 feet from me. I can only think that it was Nellie because: this owl was very tame and put up with me taking photos (will post soon) and being so near for so long. Because I got so close, I did not see an antenna nor did I see any leg bands since her fur covered them. I did use the transmitter to see if it was Ned and got no response. This owl seemed to hear the whistle and come immediately for the mouse as if she had played this game before. The only odd thing was that if this was a nesting owl, I would have thought that she would have taken the mouse and fed the babies (both male and female feed their young). That's part of the reason I watched for so long, hoping she would lead me to the nest.
Monday night, I heard both a male and female owl in the same place calling to each other. So, my best guess would be that Nellie is back and is searching for a new mate but that is it too late in the nesting season to have babies so is giving this year a miss.
As I am writing this at noon on Tuesday, I hear a female hooting. I see her but by the time I got set up, she had flown away. It was definitely a female because they have that lovely trill at the end of their call.
I have several reports from other neighbors of hearing lots of owls so that is good news.
Giving a hoot,
Update: for the last several days, I have heard lots of female hooting as well as more hooting btw. a male and female. Two neighbors report seeing two owls flying together. Still best guess is Ned has gone to owl heaven and Nellie is trolling and may have found another mate but it's too late in the nesting season.