Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Alice lays an egg!

While we've been focused on Rusty and Iris, Alice has been busy doing her thing. She's been hooting up a storm (which some of you have heard as distant hooting on the Rusty and Iris cam), following us around the house, sitting on her nest, and refusing to go to work.

She stopped eating a few days ago. I wasn't concerned because owls stop eating for a few days before they lay an egg. If you think about it, there isn't much room in a bird's abdomen for an egg in the first place, let alone for an egg AND food. And the eggs and poop all come out the same "out door" (the cloaca) anyway.

This past week I HAD to bring Alice to work a couple of days. One day because Hein was painting in the house, and one day because Roger Meyer, our cage builder, was gluing some Formica onto some new countertops for us. Too stinky to have an owl in the house, as birds are more susceptible to fumes than humans.

The first day Alice didn't want to go, but I was able to round her up and take her in. She wouldn't sit on her perch in my office, but jumped to the ground and started walking around. Normally I wouldn't allow this, but this time of year virtually no one stops into the nature center. Plus Alice can't fly, so I didn't have to worry about her escaping. She wandered around and checked things out and finally settled in to sleep on the chair of my office assistant...Connie Verse. Thankfully Connie was OK with this.

The second day Alice had to go to work required drastic measures. I would never have done it if the gluing of the laminate hadn't come up. I could not get her out of her nest and onto the glove, so I literally took her nest basket down off the wall of her room!! Then she got out. But she was even more restless at work, even though I had brought her portable nest basket along to work. She wanted nothing to do with it. After two hours of restlessness, she settled on the back of Connie's chair again.

In the evenings she has been coming down stairs to hoot and hoot and hoot and hoot and get attention. She has been hooting if we cough, sneeze, fart, flush the toilet, or make any kind of a loud noise. I told her I didn't believe she was going to lay an egg yet though because she hadn't started to lose any belly feathers so she'd have a brood patch. So she started dropping belly feathers in earnest on Saturday.

Sunday night she was squatting in her nest instead of sitting. Same thing yesterday (Monday) morning. We went to La Crosse shopping for the day and didn't get home until 9 PM. Alice hooted from her nest upstairs when we arrived, so I went up to say hello. She was sitting in her flattened incubation posture, but I didn't figure she had laid an egg yet. Just for the heck of it I stuck my hand under her to check. There was an egg!!!

She's a diligent incubator and only had a short break this morning. I'll have to pay attention to how often and how long she takes breaks, but last year it was usually once a day for about 7 minutes. Just remember that eggs would freeze quickly in the wild if they took long incubation breaks! Oooh, and it'll be fun to see if she lays a second egg this year. The past two years she's only laid one egg.

I'm happy she laid her egg so early. Now she can have her full month of incubation and still be ready to go for the International Festival of Owls the first weekend in March.


  1. good going Alice. fooled your mom! LOL mandozee1888

  2. Congratulations, Alice! Well done! You are one amazing owl!!!

    Karla: She has been hooting if we cough, sneeze, fart, flush the toilet, or make any kind of a loud noise.

    Karla -- I just can't believe you fart! ;)


  3. Wow--seems like *everyone's* coming up owl eggs! Congratulations, Alice!

    (And hopefully, the hooting will ease up a bit? Heard something this morning (19 Jan 2011) at around 03:47 PST that might have been her--came from outside the box, not a usual call, more like a hoo ^hoohoohoohoohoohoo - short, low syllable and descending trill from a high pitch to about the pitch of first syllable)--call was repeated with a pause of a few seconds several times for about a minute, then a pause of about a minute, then three more repeats, about a 30-second pause, and one last call at 03:49:54 PST.)

    Nothing from Rusty or Iris this morning, although Rusty did eat (or at least get breakfast) first today. No hooting last night (18 Jan 2011) either, at least now while I was listening. Iris did do some flying around and flying in Rusty's face from around 16:28 to 17:45 or so PST, with a couple of encounters that seemed more aggressive than usual - at 16:56, it looked like her feet were in his face when she turned, and at 17:42, it looked like there might even have been contact.

    (Hmm...wonder if there's anything from a brooding Alice (dropped belly feathers? sounds she's making?) that could stimulate Iris? Or do owls just not work that way? Guess the live food is a non-starter, at least for now...it was a thought.)

  4. all times est

    6:40 hi karla
    6:43 looks like they are waiting for dinner.
    6:48 rusty is on the hide box I think?
    7:07 is that rusty on the feeding try?
    7:25 duck rusty! she's dive bombing you again
    7:26 she did it again
    7:29 again
    7:30 wounder what he's thinking when she's coming at him?
    7:49 duck rusty she's going to knock you off your purch,
    7:50 mandozee1888: wow that was a close one that time.
    7:52 that was close
    7:55 that was closer
    7:55 duck!
    7:58 duck rusty she's gunning for u. what did you do?
    8:00 you tell her rusty hoot hoot hoot!
    8:00 chatter at him from the leadge Iris.
    8:01 whats got her worked up now drived at him again
    8:01 and again
    8:03 rusty feels safer on the hide box I bet.
    8:11 rustys on the food tray
    8:13 now he's on the leage with Iris a little chatter
    8:13 and back to the hide box, scratching on it.
    8:17 to the purtch by the window
    8:18 Iris is on the hide box
    8:29 rusty flew to the ground by the water tub then to the feeding tray
    8:32 iris scratched at the hide box rusty flew to the purtch
    8:34 rusty flew down to the water tub again purtched on the side of it.
    8:36 iris flew to leadge and back to the hide box
    8:37 rusty flew to the leadge and back to the purtch by the window
    8:38 then off camara
    8:38 back to the leadge
    8:39 rusty did a u turn i think. might want to check the recording
    8:42 must be mixed up unless rusty is doing u turns now?
    8:44 that sounded like Iris did a u turn sorry I got mixed up somewhere sorry.
    8:46 iris flew to purtch by window
    8:48 iris to the leadge above the far window then did a u turn

    I think I got mixed up near the end but there was lots if chatter.


  5. It's great to get such detailed observations! It makes it easy for me to pick out what I think is important and need to review. Thanks guys!