Monday, June 11, 2007

5:30 AM Wake Up Call

Great Horned Owls tend to be more crepuscular than strictly nocturnal--they're most active at dawn and dusk. Alice isn't an exception to the rule.

Since the sun comes up EARLY these days, Alice is raring to go and wants attention just as early. This led to fairly regular 5:30 AM wake up calls.

These wake up calls started with scratching on the bedroom door. Then a l-o-n-g pause. More scratching. Pause again. This continued until the bedroom door swung open about 12 inches...just wide enough for Alice to squeak in.

Apparently morning greetings are a required part of doing business. As soon as she was in the room, Alice would hop up on the foot of the bed and hoot. If I didn't sit up and hoot with her, pretty soon I would feel big feet with sharp talons walking their way up my body to my shoulder, then a poofy "plump" sound as Alice hopped onto my pillow right next to may face--eight talons less that six inches from my eyeballs. Then she would lean forward and hoot in my face.

If that doesn't wake a person up, nothing will.

So to preserve my vision, I exchanged a few hoots when she came in. There was no use leaving the shades pulled down on the windows at the head of the bed, since Alice would scratch at them and otherwise make noise until I pulled them up. She would occupy herself watching the birds nesting in the pine trees just outside the window for a while, but then wanted more attention. So just as I had started dozing off again, I got a faceful of feathers on my pillow again and more hooting.

Female owls get what they want and have ways of making their needs known. Alice bites or grabs when I'm the problem and I'm close enough for her to get at me (thankfully not hard.) Not good when my head is lying on the pillow she's standing on.

So I tried sleeping with my head at the foot of the bed when she came in. I tried sleeping in the spare bed. But once she woke me up, I just couldn't get back to sleep with the sun up.

Then Alice started doing something she's only rarely done before--pooping on the bed. For whatever reason, her habit was to go to the foot of the bed and poop off the end onto the well-placed carpet protector there. But this nice little habit came to an end. After washing sheets two days in a row and lacking sleep for a week or two, I decided it was time to ban Alice from our bedroom.

The bedroom door has never really latched since we moved into the house 13 years ago. It's never been an issue, so we've never messed with it. I figured it would be a major pain in the but to fix, since the door is warped. But to my delight, all I had to do was loosen the screws on the latch plate and insert a little spacer to push the plate out toward the door a bit more. Now it latches.

The bedroom ban has been on for about a week. Alice didn't try to come in to the bedroom until a couple of days ago, after I had gotten up. She spent about a half hour in the hallway trying to figure out why she couldn't get in before giving up. She tried again this morning (at 5:30 AM), but only gave it a scratch or two before giving up.

I feel a bit bad since she enjoys the time together and the behavioral observations are quite interesting, but I'm not willing to risk my eyeballs so she can have a view out of south facing windows. If it's that important, she can go downstairs to look south.

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