Friday, February 12, 2010

Alice lays an egg!!

All I can say is I wasn't expecting it!

Last January Alice laid the first egg of her life at nearly 12 years of age. But she ate it three days later. So much for that experience.

She starting acting like she was going to lay an egg this year the beginning of January. She sat on her nest 24 hours a day, only getting off to poop and get a drink about once every other day. She stopped eating. I was sure she was going to lay an egg. But after several days of this, she gradually reverted to leaving her nest at night, and she started eating again. Oh well. Hein was here then, so maybe she wasn't quite ready to lay an egg with him around (although she got along with him great!)

Then immediately after Hein left in mid January, Alice started in on the eggy behavior again. Sitting flat on her nest like she was incubating an egg. Not eating. Staying on her nest 24/7. But each time I stuck my hand under her to feel for an egg, all I felt was her feathered toes.

Throughout all of this she hooted with me a lot and wanted to "copulate" a lot. The male owl would normally fly in and land on the female's back to do the deed, so for Alice "copulation" means me putting my hand on her back and nuzzling her neck with my nose. It's kind of nice that I can actually touch her like this, because I can't the rest of the year.

Since she wasn't laying an egg, I decided her "maternity leave" from work was over. The City Maintenance guys had built her a cool new perch in the nature center office, complete with its own poop catcher. So I brought Alice in to work last Saturday.

She was soooooo uncomfortable. I don't think it was the perch, but she just didn't want to be away from her nest. She pooped a lot (which she only does at work when she's scared or nervous), she stood on both feet the whole time (she tucks a foot up when she's comfortable), and she didn't sleep a wink (she normally dozes all day.) And when we got home she went straight upstairs and sat on her nest.

And then she started being nesty again. I didn't think a thing of it. Wednesday morning when I went to work she was squatting in her nest instead of sitting. I thought maybe she was going to get past the nesty thing. But when I came home she was flattened out on her nest in her incubation posture. I still wasn't surprised, but I stuck my hand under her just to check anyway.

I felt around, but what I felt didn't feel like toes! I had to part her feathers to confirm that yes indeed, my dear Alice had laid an egg!

I think it's bigger than last year's egg, and a bright white. She sat on it straight through until this morning when she got off at 6:30 AM to get a drink and poop. (WOW did that poop STINK after holding it for two days!!!) After being off for no more than 5-10 minutes, she was back on her egg. A devoted Mom.

This time she's changing position a lot when she incubates. Sometimes she faces to the back, sometimes to the side, sometimes kitty corner. She never did that before. And now she hisses at me whenever I enter the room. She chitters a greeting first, but then she's telling me to leaver her alone with some hissing.

She always sits low in the nest. No wonder it's so hard to see wild owls when they're incubating. All you'd ever see are ear tufts.

I half expected a second egg to arrive today, but nope, there's still only one. I'll keep you posted when something of note happens. But watching an owl incubate eggs can be incredibly unexciting.