Monday, December 02, 2013

Looking For Pandora

Tracking the 3 P's has been a learning experience for sure.  First we realized that it was terribly difficult to track the young owls with just a directional (yagi) antenna, as we lost all three of them within one week!  So we got an omni-directional antenna that sticks to the roof of the car with a magnet, and it worked so well we found Patrick and Patience within a few hours of receiving the antenna in the mail.

But despite putting on hundreds of miles driving in every direction from Houston, we've been unable to locate Pandora.  The only other option was to go up in an airplane to give better reception range, and thankfully flight instructor Dale Scobie agreed to take us up.

We got a bead on Patrick before we left for the airport, so we'd have some kind of baseline to determine the range of the receiver in the airplane.  I got faint beeps from Patrick as soon as we were up in the air in Caledonia, over 12 miles away!

View Pandora, Patrick and Patience Locations in a larger map

We essentially flew a large circle around Houston, periodically stopping to make small circles so the directional antenna would pick up the owls no matter where they were.  We went west to Lanesboro, south almost to Mabel, east to the Mississippi River, and north to Winona.  We covered a large area.

Patrick came in loud and clear anywhere to the south.  Patience, always checking out new places, had tucked herself into a little valley so her signal was only good when we were within maybe five miles.

But as much as we tried, there was absolutely no signal from Pandora.

So what does this mean?  Either her transmitter is no longer anywhere in the area, it has stopped working, or it was destroyed.  Even if Pandora had died her transmitter would still be transmitting.  At this point there is no way to know, so you get to choose your own ending to her story.


  1. One day Pandora will return to your woods to raise her own owlets. Meanwhile she is enjoying seeing the world. :)

  2. Patience has remained in a relatively circumscribed area for weeks now. Is it possible that she has formed, or has begun to form, a bond with a male who claims this area around the river as his territory? I suppose the only way to discover this would be visual observation.

    1. Yes, the only way to know for sure is to spend time at night there to listen for her hooting with a male. Or find her on a nest!

  3. thanks you had an omnidirectional antenna with you. and it is good that you spent some time there. This is the way you can find them and catch them conveniently.