Monday, January 05, 2009

Alice Lays An Egg!!!

How's this for a motley assortment of eggs?!?

It started a few days ago with Alice sitting on her nest all day. The tan plastic Easter egg had been sitting on the side of her nest for years, and she'd never shown interest in it, but now she was sitting on it.

So I brought home my replica Great Horned Owl egg from the Houston Nature Center. She happily accepted that one too.

She hasn't eaten anything for a few days. According to those in the know, they often don't eat anything before laying eggs...probably because things are full enough in that little abdomen when cooking up an egg without adding food to the intestines.

She's only gotten off her nest for brief periods the last couple of days. She came into the bedroom about midnight last night and hopped up onto my pillow to make me hoot with her (which I do, since the alternative is to get talons in the face. There's just no arguing with that.) Thankfully she wasn't in the bedroom more than 15 minutes.

(This is where I need to mention that owls do NOT make good pets. It's not legal to have them for pets in the U.S. and many other countries. I have Alice under a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to do programs for the Houston Nature Center, and she does indeed have to work. But since I'm a one-person staff, she can't live at the Nature Center. And it's a very long story about how she wound up in the house, but because of it I've been able to conduct a vocal study on her species due to my close association with her. So she is indeed a working girl, I never intended for her to live in the house, and I don't recommend it.)

So today she didn't get off her nest until about 5:30 PM. She wasn't off long, and I didn't check on her. She got off again at 8 PM, and I went in to hoot with her (and put my hand on her back--that's as close to copulation as we can being a human and all.) But before I left her room, I poked my nose over the edge of her laundry basket nest and ta-da! There was this motley assortment of eggs!

The plastic egg is easy to identify. The off-white one in the middle is the replica, which is actually noticeably bigger than the REAL egg, which is white, in the front, and looks a heck of a lot like a ping pong ball.

So after calling a bunch of people to spread the news and get some advice, I will remove the plastic egg the next time she's off and leave the replica egg for now. And see if she lays any more eggs. I'll let her sit on the eggs and record her vocalizations, since it's up for debate as to whether a human-imprinted owl will have the same kinds of vocalizations around the nest as an owl that knows it's an owl.

So, at nearly 12 years of age, Alice finally laid her first egg. Maybe because it's just her and me now....