Monday, January 21, 2013

Alice's Egg

We got a look at Alice's new egg last night when she took a 10 minute break about 5:00 PM last night. All of a sudden there are lots of belly feathers around it, making it look well cared-for.

Alice hooted a lot while off her nest so Hein hooted with her while I quickly got her supper ready.  I fed her a few tidbits by hand while she was off the nest.

Then when she was back on the nest I gave her a few more tidbits until she was done eating.  This is how I had to feed her last year.  I left the rest of the rat on her food tray, but she didn't touch it, as expected.

This morning she got off her nest about 5 AM to poop, then was right back on it.  Around 7 AM she took a break but had trouble getting back up to her tall perch by the nest...somehow she had a hold of one of her wings with her foot while grasping the perch with the same foot and hanging upside down. I ran at warp speed and helped her up onto the perch.  I moved her tall chair perch into the room now to help her get back up to the nest through more incremental steps, as I did last year.  When she sits all day on the nest she seems to lose muscle tone and has more trouble getting from perch to perch.  This makes it a bit easier for her.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Alice laid an egg!

I knew Alice was due to lay an egg soon since she was staying so close to her nest most of the time.  Normally she stops eating for a couple of days before laying an egg, so I was waiting for her to stop eating.

Although she didn't eat two nights ago, she apparently ate a few bites for breakfast after I checked on her.  But I still felt she was close to laying.

Last night when we went to bed she was on her window perch hooting to us.  But when I got up around 3 AM to use the restroom, Alice was hooting from her nest.  I left the lights off, so I didn't see if she was sitting on or near her nest.

When I got up this morning she was in full incubation posture.  This means she's squished out flat and wide.  I suspected an egg, so I gently put a hand under her breast feathers.  Ta-dah!  There was an egg!

Last year she took me off guard by laying a second egg after I stopped looking for one, so I'll keep better watch this year.

Since there are no male owls with access to Alice, her eggs are not fertile and won't hatch.  I let her sit on them though, since that's what her instincts tell her to do.  Also, if I removed her eggs too soon, she might just lay more.

Good job Alice!  Enjoy your maternity leave from work.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Getting Ready for Eggs

Alice squatting in her nest basket in her room.

It's time to be thinking about eggs for Great Horned Owls.  Alice typically lays eggs somewhere around this date, so I'm watching for signs she's getting ready to lay.

She needs to develop a brood patch, so lots of fluffy belly feathers need to fall out.  Last year she didn't loose many before laying her first egg, but then they just fell out like crazy.  So far I've just seen a few in her room...probably not more than three.  Iris has also lost just a few tummy feathers too.

Another sign egg laying is imminent is that she stops eating.  Apparently there isn't room for an egg along with food in the abdomen, so they don't eat for a couple of days or so before laying.  Alice ate last night, so we aren't quite there yet.

The final sign is that she stays very close to her nest. She's been spending less time outside at night and sleeping either on the side of her nest or in her hide box right next to her nest.

Tonight when I came home from work Alice was squatting in her nest, talons tucked under her toes.  (See photo above.)  Eggs should be coming within a week I would guess.

It's nice to see Iris sleeping next to the nest every night after supper.  Rusty always looks like he'd make a great Mom, digging in the nest and sitting in it too.  He's been bringing Iris lots of food to fatten her up.

Alice is officially on maternity leave now, and probably won't be back to work until the International Festival of Owls March 1-3, 2013.

It'll be egg-citing to see who lays when, and how many eggs each will lay.  Stay tuned!