Saturday, February 23, 2013

Alice is a free bird!

Thirty-three days.  That's how long Great Horned Owls normally sit on their eggs before they hatch.  That's a looooong time to spend 23.5 hours a day in the exact same spot, usually staring at the wall.  But then again, that's probably why an incubating female goes into "zone-out" mode when sitting.

Alice's 33 days were up yesterday, so we planned to remove her eggs when she was on break.  I heard her at about 6:30 AM, but she had just gotten back on her eggs.  Missed.  Hein cleaned her room in the afternoon, however, and she got off her eggs and went out into her patio for a quick break.  Hein snatched her eggs when she was out.

Oddly enough, Alice always settles back onto her nest after the egg-napping like absolutely nothing has happened. She even looks down where the eggs should be.  Then she starts incubating nothing.

As usual, just over an hour after the eggs were removed she started hooting.  She figured it out.  Then she was off her nest, on her nest, back and forth.  She'll do this for a couple of days until she mostly stops sitting on her nest and just gets on with her life.  For her it seems to come as kind of a relief from the prison of incubation.  (I don't remove her eggs early, though, since it might cause her to lay again.)

Hein is the designated egg blower, since he had a bird egg collection as a kid.  Above he's pictured poking holes in both ends of the egg with a needle.  Then he scrambles the innards with the needle, holds the egg over the bowl, and blows into one end while the runny stuff squirts out the other end into the bowl.

Oddly enough, the eggs never stink and seem totally fresh.  I always find that amazing.

Then Hein sucks water into the eggs, rinses it around and blows it out again.  When done, they're put into an egg carton to dry.

This year's eggs were perfectly matched, the first time yet.  Here's how they've come out so far:

2009: one small egg
2010: one huge egg
2011: one perfect egg
2012: one perfect egg and one small "afterthought" egg
2013 two perfect!

Maybe she'll gear up for three next year, like Iris this year.....