Sunday, September 29, 2013

Patrick's Amazing Rat Catch

The rats are winning again.  Just when I thought we had everything sealed up so none of them could hide from the owlets, they got UNDER the baseboard for the walls.  They still can't get out since there is wire mesh buried two feet down into the ground attached to the outside of the baseboard, but they can hide nicely from the owlets.

I put out a pile of sunflower seeds to lure the rats out of their hole.  It worked beautifully, but the clock in the owlets' stomachs said morning isn't the time to eat.  So the owlets just sat and watched the rats.  Argghhh!

I happened to peek in and noticed an owlet hanging on the wire by the food tray.  Then it bit at the wire.  I thought it must have gotten stuck somehow and immediately started thinking about how fast I could get home to get it unstuck.

Then I noticed a rat on the other side of the wire, in the owlet's talons!  The owlet was trying to grab the rat with its beak to pull it through.  Eventually it succeeded!

When I got home I reviewed the video and found that it was our amazing Patrick that made the catch.  Why he went for such a hard catch while totally ignoring the rats on the floor in front of him is beyond me.  Maybe he just wanted to show off to his sisters.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Website compromised

The International Owl Center website has been compromised, so we are working with our web host to deal with the issue and establish new security protocols.  Thank you for your patience while we work this out.  In the meantime you can still watch the cams live on Ustream at:

Breeding pen:

Flight pen:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Victor and the Owlets, 9-16-13

The owlets are still working on their hoots and their rat catching abilities. Early this morning Victor, the neighbor wild male (single I might add) was over hooting in the yard. In this clip you can hear him land on the aviary roof (the owlets jump a bit.) Rusty is hooting back at him, but when one or the owlets interrupts him with a teenager hoot, Victor appears to freak and bolt. You can then hear him hooting in the distance. I wonder if he had no idea what that squeaky thing was...."

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Two Note Hoot

One of the owlets did a two-note hoot last night, IN AN ADULT VOICE! This two-note hoot is usually more of a greeting, so the context seems odd with the annoyed chitters, but it is a real adult voice! The juveniles are maturing!

 When all three are using their adult voices to hoot they can be released to the wild.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Oh, Rats!

We're back to using the medium-sized rats again.  The owlets were doing pretty well at first, then just slacked off and stopped trying very hard to catch the rats.  Maybe it was the heat, since exerting lots of energy when you're hot isn't so fun, plus they don't eat as much when they're hot.  But for whatever reason, I went in two mornings to retrieve rats that were still running around in the pen so they didn't start digging under steel and getting into the walls again.

But I was too late.  A gray one was already in the wall and has now been seen on the food tray drinking out of the water bowl.  And I watched on video while a white one climbed up the steel in a corner and got up into the wall through the chain link.  Sigh.

Last night I only gave them one piece of gopher and three rats.  They didn't catch any of the rats.  No one looks like they're starving.  So I'll go ahead for a while and offer very little food so they get motivated to learn how to catch rats better.  This is what their parents would naturally do...withhold food to get them motivated to hunt.

Hunting is a natural instinct and just requires practice (which takes motivation.)  So here's to motivating the juveniles to hone their hunting skills!