Saturday, February 04, 2012

A Gray Squirrel Comes to Visit

Rusty and Iris' cage was supposed to be built so few if any insects (including mosquitoes) could get inside. In reality, there must be some small spaces here and there that are awfully hard to pinpoint. Unless you're one of Rusty and Iris' "pet" carnivorous mice who live in the cage and much on fresh gopher every night. Or if you're a squirrel.

A red squirrel got in a few days this summer, but I eventually found the little spot where he was coming and going and sealed it up. I was a bit smug that I'd won out. But today an even bigger GRAY squirrel got into the cage. How I don't know, but it kept Rusty and Iris on their toes all day.

Thankfully Iris didn't seem too agitated by the squirrel. For the most part it was just entertainment for these well fed owls. But it was too much for the squirrel to come onto the nest platform and Rusty went after that squirrel again and again.

Poor Rusty didn't have the normal advantages of a higher perch from which to drop down onto the squirrel, space to maneuver, or even binocular vision. He wasn't fast enough to get the squirrel, but he was persistent, and the squirrel didn't stick around to test his luck.

Rusty never did get the squirrel, but by the end of the day the squirrel found its way out. I kinda doubt he'll try to come back any time soon.


  1. It sure was fun to watch. I'm glad it didn't upset Iris to much.


  2. The music with this is fantastic! lol Way to go Rusty! Poor squirrel is having nightmares I bet.

  3. I love the video. Rusty is a fierce protector.

  4. All this and no hooting? Did the pair hoot after chasing away a squirrel? This would seem like the kind of event that may cause a breeding pair to reassert their dominance of the territory. Any thoughts?

  5. No, they didn't hoot much when chasing away the squirrels or after. They were more concerned about getting the squirrel away from the nest. A squirrel wouldn't necessarily understand hooting, so I suppose this is very different than chasing away another Great Horned Owl.

  6. Notes from today (07 Feb 2012) (such as they are)....

    At 04:29 PST, Iris was looking at ceiling--any idea what that was that spooked her and Rusty yesterday?

    At 04:35 PST, Rusty hooted with an extra syllable tacked on (I don't think it was the out-of-phase audio). Not sure what brought that on.

    At 04:44 PST, there as a short hoot exchange, with Iris clucking and hooting on the nest and Rusty on the log perch.

    At 05:08 PST, Iris was on the far perch, with Rusty hooting and facing the nest. Not sure exactly when Iris left, sorry.

    At 05:13 PST, Iris was back at nest, landing on the platform edge and walking straight into the nest bowl.

    At 18:57 PST, Rusty went to nest with food. Iris twittered as Rusty passed the food to her. Rusty hooted once, softly and hoarsely. Iris was behind Rusty but her tail was bobbing, and after Rusty left at 18:58 PST, Iris sat up briefly in the nest and looked around, then stood up briefly, dug around in the nest, and settled back down with much foot digging. The food doesn't seem to be there anymore, which leads me to suspect the bobbing tail noted earlier was accompanied by gulping of food. Weather report says it's about 20 degrees Fahrenheit in Houston, and I noticed Iris eating in the nest before when it was about that temperature.

    Nothing much happening tonight--Iris appears to be asleep, as does Rusty (her eyes are closed, and his aren't reflecting light at the camera). Hopefully it'll stay that way....

  7. Karla,
    Please review the tapes for around 11:00pm on 02/09
    there is some thing sawing to get in the pen. I have heard this sound before. Do you have any idea what this sound or animal may be? Thank you, Onecraftyone :)

  8. Wow. Cornell video on how wild parrots 'learn' their names.

    Figured you would be interested in it karla

  9. A few quick notes from the last few days, since I'm such a flake....

    08 February 2012 - Rusty and Iris had a brief hoot/cluck exchange at 03:53 PST. At 04:36 PST, Iris was on the far perch (not sure when she left, but she was digging in the nest at 04:04 PST). At 04:37 PST, Rusty was hooting in the flight cage. Iris hooted back, then joined him in the flight cage. She returned to the nest at 04:45 PST.

    At 17:39 PST, Rusty was near the nest, hooting; Iris clucked back and dug around in the nest.

    At 18:55 PST, Rusty hooted on the log perch, and Iris clucked back from the nest.

    On 10 February 2012 at 04:31 PST, Iris was in the nest looking at the ceiling, alert, but not alarmed. At 04:33 PST, her beak was moving, but she wasn't vocalizing and she was facing the camera.

    At 04:37 PST, Rusty arrived at the nest with food. He passed it to Iris, and twittering noises (something new?) were heard--not sure who made them. Rusty hooted softly after handoff, then went to the log perch. Iris picked at the food a bit, then picks up her gopher butt and went to her usual
    spot on the far perch at at 04:38:59 PST. Rusty watched her leave and land, then returned to watching the nest, occasionally glancing at Iris.

    At 04:42 PST, Rusty hooted, and Iris answered, looking at him. Rusty started grunting, then flew to the middle of far perch. He hooted and Iris hooted back for a couple of minutes.

    At 04:43 PST, Iris went to the log perch, then back to the nest. Rusty was in the flight cage. At 04:45 PST, Rusty hooted from flight cage. Iris looked up but doesn't answer.

    At 05:41 PST, Rusty went to the nest with more food, and more twittering was heard during the handoff. Rusty hooted quietly once, then went to the platform edge and hooted again, facing outwards, with Iris on the nest watching him, then went to the side perch at 05:42:42 PST. Iris looks at the food, then looked around a bit. At 05:45, Iris was looking down (at the food?) while shifting around on the nest and digging with her beack, then settled back down. Not sure what happened to the food, maybe she cached it in the nest?

    Iris took another break into the flight cage from 16:02 to 16:10 PST.

    At 21:15 PST, Iris went from the nest to the far perch--looked like she was eating. She was back on the nest at 21:20 21:20 PST--not sure exactly when she returned.

    (continued in next post)

  10. 11 February 2012 - Iris took a break on the far perch from 04:19 to 04:26 PST.

    At 04:42 PST, Rusty was at nest with food, and more twittering was heard during the handoff. Rusty left for the log perch, and Iris left for the far perch at 04:44 PST. She returned at 04:46 PST.

    12 February 2012 - at 04:00 PST, Iris was off nest and off-camera. Rusty was also off camera.
    At 04:04 PST, Iris returned to the nest, straight into nest bowl.

    At 04:28 PST, Rusty was at the center of far perch, hooting softly. A shadow appeared briefly at right side of nestcam just prior. Iris was mildly alert but lying down in nest.

    At 04:32 PST, Rusty was at the food tray. He went to the nest at 04:35, hooting, with Iris looking at the ceiling and clucking. Rusty went to the flight cage at 04:35:57 PST.

    At 05:00 PST, Iris arrived back at the nest--not sure when she left.

    At 05:32 PST, Rusty went to nest with food. There was quiet hooting from him, twittering from her. He went to the front of nest platform hooting quietly, she stayed in the nest looking at the food item in front of her.

    At 05:33 PST, Rusty went to right-off-center of the far perch, the facing nest. Iris picked up her food and left at 05:34 PST for the center of far perch, then went to the left side of the perch with her food in her beak. She started eating, with Rusty watching her. (One egg was visible in bottom of nest bowl.) Rusty watched the nest.

    At 05:35 PST, Iris returned to the nest and rolled the eggs with her beak before settling down. She wiggled quite a bit while settling. Rusty watched her from the same spot at right-off-center on the far perch; he then moves to left side of far perch and went into the flight cage at 05:37 PST.

    At 14:06 PST, Rusty went to the log perch and started hooting, and Iris clucked back. This went on for about a minute, then there was a pause, then he hooted once and she clucked back briefly, then they stopped.

    At 16:07 PST, Rusty left the nest (not sure when he got there), went to the log perch, and hooted; Iris hooted back.
    At 16:09 PST, Rusty hooted on the log perch, and Iris clucked back with food in her mouth (guess she doesn't read Emily Post).

    At 16:10 PST, Iris got up from the nest bowl and stepped onto the platform with food, passing it from beak to talon to beak to talon, with Rusty hooting on the log perch. She finally ook the food in her beak and went flies to the right side
    of the far perch.
    At 16:17 PST, Rusty was at the nest (unsure of arrival), apparently inspecting things; he then went to the side perch, with Iris on the far
    perch watching and eating.

    At 16:18 PST, Iris sent to the log perch, looked at the nest, then returned to the nest.

    13 February 2012 - long hoot exchange from around 03:05 to 03:13 PST.

    At 04:39 PST, Iris went to the far perch; there was one quiet hoot from Rusty as she got up. There was faint hooting and grunting heard, but it didn't look like it was coming from Rusty or Iris. One of the voices sounded a lot like Iris'--Victor's mate? (Sorry--don't know what typical female GHOW calls are like, since Iris' and Alice's are so different.)

    At 04:40 PST, Iris returned to the nest, went into the nest bowl, turned around, and left again at 04:41 PST, heading straight into the flight cage. More hooting was heard, source uncertain, sounded like a male and female pair.

    At 04:44 PST, Iris came back into the breeding cage, checked out the food tray, then went to the far perch and started eating. Rusty was on the far perch, hooting.

    At 04:53 PST, Iris returned to the nest. Rusty was on right side of far perch.

    At 05:31 PST, Iris was looking at ceiling, still on the nest, alert but not alarmed.

    Sorry for the length--will try to post more promptly. Hope this is helpful.

  11. I always appreciate your detailed notes, screwball. They help me cue in on things and not miss them when I'm reviewing video...and it's easy to miss thing when watching 3 cams at 64 times normal speed!