Wednesday, April 06, 2005

An Easter Egg, A Rat, and More Testimony

Things haven't been terribly exciting around here lately. The neighbor owls are still hooting...and even doing some crazy, wild hooting right in the yard. I was lucky enough to wake up and get it on tape. The screech-owls still call sometimes, and last night a single Barred Owl hooted half the night way off in the distance.

For Easter, my Mom gave all the grandkids plastic Easter eggs with treats inside. Since Alice is the closest thing we've produced to a grandchild for them, Alice got an egg too. It was beige (owl eggs are not too far off) and pretty close to the right size for a Great Horned Owl egg. It was shiny and plastic, so the texture wasn't quite right, but curiosity got the better of me. I put it in her nest box.

Alice was in her nest box when I put the egg in with her. She looked at it for a few seconds, and that was it. The next day she was in her nest basket, so I put it in there. She's ignored it. In fact this morning when she was in her nest basket clucking and scratching around she actually threw the egg out! (I don't think it was just happened to come out with the wood shavings that get thrown about when she scratches around.) So much for the egg thing. Maybe if I would have introduced it in January.....

Alice has been consistently coming downstairs now for about four nights straight. This is pretty unusual...she rarely comes downstairs on her own. But I finally figured out why. There's been a rodent in the house. We live in a 1930s farmhouse, so that's not a big surprise. But the mouse traps weren't being touched at all. I was a little baffled.

Until yesterday. I glimpsed the critter at the bottom of the basement stairs, and it was WAY too big to be a mouse. I must be a rat!! It's been snipping off the carpet just under the living room closet door among other things, but is totally uninterested in baited rat traps. I tried plain peanut butter, then added some dog food to the peanut butter. Nothing.

So last night Alice came downstairs at 8 PM. She hung out in the kitchen, pounced on a shoe, and then finally went into the living room when I went to bed. Out of curiosity I checked on her a little later. She was sitting on an end table I had pulled in front of the couch to use for my owl pellet dissections I'm working on. This is not normal living room behavior for her. She normally sits looking out a window, on the back of the rocking chair, or on top of a bookcase. She doesn't perch somewhere in the middle of the living room.

Except when there's a rat in the closet. The end table is the perfect front row seat to see the rat in action if it pokes it's head out of the closet. And what do you know...her poop the last several nights indicates that's exactly where she spent her time downstairs.

Now we'll have to see who prevails...the rat, the rat traps, or Alice. Since Alice's kill list only includes a single camel cricket, I'm not betting on Alice.... We may have to bring in a cat to do the job properly.

We just returned from our second visit to the state capitol today. Alice and I had previously testified before the House of Representatives Natural Resources Policy Committee regarding their bill to remove Great Horned Owls from Minnesota's "unprotected birds" list. We must have done OK since we were called back to testify before the Senate committee. All went well. Now we just sit back and wait for the voting.....

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