Saturday, February 26, 2005

Meet the Neighbors

I've finally "met" all the neighbor owls and have them sorted out now. We've given them names just to make them easier to refer to.

First we have the original pair from our place. "Wendell" is the male of that pair. He's been around as long as I've been able to identify individual calls, which is maybe since 2000 or so. His hoot is what I consider a typical Great Horned Owl hoot: "Hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo, hoo."

"Wheezy" is Wendell's mate. She was the first bird we named because she had such a wheezy voice. I actually thought she was terribly sick, but she's been hooting like that for a long time, and finally seems to have lost the wheeze. Her hoot is a distinctive "Hoo, hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo, hoo," and is often quite emphatic. She's been around for a couple of years now.

Then there's the new pair that bumped Wendell and Wheezy off to the east of us (but they're still close enough we can still hear them from our house.) We named the male "Victor" for obvious reasons. His hoot is an interesting "Hoo, H-h-h-h-hoo, hoo, hoo." I know his hoot well...he and Wendell spent a week or more hooting it out in our yard while the females kept their distance.

Then there's the matter of Victor's woman. I just plain hadn't heard her since last fall. She had to exist, though, since it would be highly unlikely for an unmated male to boot an established pair off their territory. I FINALLY heard her hoot in the last few nights. She spared a few minutes to come up and hoot in the pines next to the bedroom window with her man. Her hoot is basically the same rhythm as Alice's hoot: "Hoo, hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo, hoo, hoo." We can this new female Virginia.

Now that we've met the neighbors and I've got them all sorted out, the next order of business is to find a nest. I'm pretty sure I know the area where Victor and Virginia are nesting, but I've looked twice with no luck. I'm not giving up though.

So where does Alice fit into all of this? Since I'm pretty sure Victor's nest is within 100-200 yards of our house, Alice usually hoots it out with him almost every night. She doesn't even care if I hoot with her...she does her hoot-a-thons just fine all by herself.

By the way, Alice scratched her eye again, this time a little worse. It was still bothering her today, 3 days after I noticed her left eye was bothering her slightly. I took her in to her vet today, but apparently things are healing up just fine on their own. I hope she feels better for her hatch-day party at the Festival of Owls March 4-6!

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