Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rhett and Delilah

OK, I'm thinking Delilah and Rhett are a thing now.  (Just wait for Delilah to prove me wrong...again.) She and Rhett were in the yard hooting allllll night long, starting before we went to bed until 6 AM.  At least I got a good recording of them.

I also got a poor quality video of Rhett hooting just outside the bedroom window at about 6:15 AM, just before he flew off for the morning.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who's Who

While it's possible to tell individual owls apart by their territorial hoot, it takes practice and a good ear.  Here's a rundown of the territorial hoots of the Great Horned Owls that you'll hear about in the blog and on the Rusty and Iris cam.

Alice, my permanently injured owl that I use in educational programs at the Houston Nature Center.

Rusty, my male breeding owl who is blind in one eye from a car collision.

Iris, my female breeding owl who is blind in one eye from a puncture wound to the eye.

Victor, my resident wild male since 2004.

Delilah, a wild female who's been around since February of 2012.  Not sure who's she's thinking about mating with!

Rhett, a wild male who hooked up with Scarlett Owl Hara in October of 2012, but seems to be trying to woo Delilah now.

Virginia was Victor's mate since at least 2004.  She was found unable to fly on a sandbar and died a few weeks later at The Raptor Center, probably from a major infection.

Jezebelle, a wild female that showed up in August 2011.  There's a chance she's the same bird as Delilah, but was just REALLY worked up hooting in August since she seemed to be hot for Rusty and tried to attack Alice (note the closed eye from hitting the window where Alice was sitting.)

Scarlett Owl Hara, a wild female Great Horned Owl who showed up in February 2011.  She seemed intent to have Rusty for her mate and she tried to kill Alice through the windows of the house at least three times.  She was around until fall of 2011 when she apparently hooked up with Rhett half a mile west of us, but hasn't been heard from since then.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Is Delilah Dating Around?

I was pretty certain Delilah and Victor were a couple now that Victor's mate had died.  I heard them hooting together several times in Victor's territory.

But last night Delilah was hooting with RHETT again!  Victor was hooting by himself in his own territory.  Hmmmm.....  Basically I'm realizing I have absolutely no idea what is going on.  Hopefully time will shed some light on how mate replacement works.

Play the sound file to listen to them all.  The hooting sequence is:
Delilah, Rhett, Victor, Delilah, Rusty, Rhett, Delilah, Victor, Delilah, Rhett.

Needless to say I didn't get much sleep last night with all the commotion!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Feather Do-Over

I found this messed up feather in Alice's room this morning.  She has plucked it before it was finished growing, so a new feather will grow in in its place.

I suspect this is the feather that was bleeding a few weeks ago, due to the gob of stuff at the pinched part of the shaft.  And notice that the vane of the feather below the pinch is broken off straight across at that point.  This is called a fault bar or a stress mark.  It indicates some kind of stress (food or otherwise) or injury.  Sometimes fault bars are simply a weak point in the vane of the feather and sometimes they break, as they did here.

Apparently Alice decided this feather wasn't good enough so she plucked it.  This will trigger a new feather to grow in its place, which hopefully will be perfectly normal.

Ain't it amazing how nature works?