Saturday, November 05, 2011
Looking Good for Breeding!
Rusty and Iris have lived in their aviary in Houston, Minnesota for a year now. They didn't breed the first year most likely because they were still getting settled into their new home and because a wild, unmated female named Scarlett Owl Hara harassed them every day throughout breeding season and even continued into June, August, and September!
But things are looking good for Rusty and Iris to breed this coming season. Firstly, Iris has been joining in with Rusty in his hooting bouts. Rusty is an enthusiastic hooter, hooting many, many times a day. Iris never really said much, which may have been part of the reason Scarlett was so intent on trying to get Rusty for her mate. But now I'm happy to report that Iris often hoots with Rusty, as you see in this video.
Iris is also spending her nights roosting by the nest...another good sign that she's starting to think about nesting. She and Rusty both cache their leftover food in the nest too.
But the most exciting thing for me is that it appears Scarlett has finally found herself a man!! There's a pair of owls that have been hooting about half a mile west of here for a few weeks now. Scarlett has a pretty distintive hoot, and the female of that pair sounds for all the world like Scarlett. And when those owls are hooting, I don't hear Scarlett in the yard. Perhaps this has bolstered Iris' hooting confidence....
At any rate, I'm very hopefully that we'll have nesting this coming season. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Nest Cam project will again be hosting Rusty and Iris, but this year on Ustream...commercial free! Keep watching for the new link. But for now you can still watch Rusty and Iris on Ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/great-horned-owl-breeding-project.