Elvis's Final Act

by Dan Weisz

On Monday two of the owlets fledged and hung out in their mesquite tree.  They seemed unable to do much more than hop from one branch to another.  Of course, after I went in around 8:45 they had the rest of the night to practice.

On Tuesday, the mother owl did not appear on the ladder as she had in the past.  After sunset but before dark, she swooped past the house around to the back.  There, she took a long sip of water.  I believe that this owl, like most birds, laps water into her bill and then tilts her head back in order to swallow.  She always closed her feathered eyelids when drinking.

Her head is tilted back in order to swallow the water.  You can see a large drop on her bill.

One last look at this adult Western Screech Owl. Note the dark facial disc, looking like parentheses around her face.  And also note the bold, black vertical streaks and compare that to the owlets' look in the following photos.

Second night out of the nest and this owlet still looked fairly klutzy to begin the evening.  Here, it struggled to perch on a small branch.  Below it is head first, and wings up.

And then it was head’s up and wings down.

 

And finally he found stability.

One of the owlets (without the black dot on its eye).

The same owlet, and you can see the faintest beginning of the black vertical striping around its neck.

Here is the second owlet, the one with the spot on its left iris.  He found an unusual perch, but they do live in the desert!

Busy cleaning or scratching its talons, eyes closed to prevent any accidents.

One last look at an owlet.  Actually, after a half hour, both little birds were flying around very handily.  They even flew to other trees and then followed their parents into the desert.  That was just two nights after leaving the nest!   The parents will continue feeding them but they now can follow parents around during the hunt.

And the last little owlet remained in the nest.  I never saw the parents feeding it, but she looked strong and active.

And of course, she slept lots of the time too.

On Wednesday the two fledged owlets never reappeared, and the parents also did not perch near the nest box.  I only heard them calling a very few times before 9:00 when I retired.  They had not fed the youngest at that time but I am certain they returned to the nest often during the night.  Tonight (Thursday) the owlet in the nest box appeared healthy and alert and poked its head out after sunset, looking around and apparently waiting for its dinner.  By 8:45, I had not heard the parents, but I know they are out there taking care of the two fledged birds before returning to the nest box regularly.

I will continue my watch, and keep you posted, but this email is likely the last in the Western Screech Owl series, until next Spring!