Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Molting, Etc.

Not much of interest has been going on in Aliceland lately. The nice news (for me) is that her hormones are finally starting to ebb. She no longer hoots at work, and I can get by with hooting with her just a few minutes each morning right when I get up. I do have to say that three months of incessant hooting was getting a bit annoying...even for me!

The neighbor owls have been hooting in the yard on occasion. I assume they have babies of some size now so that they can be left unattended for longer and longer periods of time. But search as I might, I just plain can't find their nests. I did, however, find another nest 15 miles from here and secured permission from the landowners to observe the nest, but the female is so skittish I can't get anywhere near without her taking off. So I haven't pestered that family much.

I also heard a new (to me) owl a week or so ago--thanks to Alice. She seemed to be watching/listening to something outside, so I put my ear to the open window crack (I can't open Alice's window more than a few inches or we wind up with talon holes in the screen). It was a female with a different hoot way off to the east! I tracked it down to my husband's aunt and uncle's farm a mile east of us (the air must have been just right.) The female's hoot had three syllables to the second part (just like Alice, Virginia & Wheezy), but the third part of her hoot had two syllables (Alice & Virginia have 1ish-going-on-two, and Wheezy has three.) Her mate had a hoot with the same rhythm as Wendell. I wasn't able to get them on tape, though. Bummer!

But Alice did finally begin her annual molt. It takes a few years for all wing feathers to be replaced, and if my assumptions are correct, she should drop her oddly-colored primary this year. I'm anxious to look at it up close, and to see what the new feather looks like. Will it be oddly colored too, or will it revert to the normal coloration??

The photo of the primary Alice dropped yesterday is much smaller than actual size. It's 12.5 inches long. Big feather, huh?