23 December 2020
Since my last update there have been a couple of puzzling happenings, and for the past two evenings I’ve only seen one of the chicks with the female (I thought both chicks were around three days ago, but can’t be absolutely certain). The female has now also taken at least one of the day-old chicks – but she showed no urgency and sat looking around for nearly 45 minutes before she hopped down and walked over to the food. She then sat for at least 20 minutes with the chick grasped in her foot before flying off with it – hopefully to feed the second chick? She certainly does not seem to be too hungry. The chick that is hanging around the roof is certainly not ravenous either, and seems to ‘play’ with its food for a while before swallowing it – usually piece by piece.
The two owls on the roof are sitting far apart and there seems to be no social interactions between them. Even when the chick was begging loudly, and food was on the roof the female did not intervene and try to feed it.
Also, of all the female Spotted Eagle-Owls I have worked with over the past 47 years, this female has been the least vocal. It came as a surprise then to hear her giving her ‘huu huu . . . . hoooo’ calls for about 5 minutes three nights ago, and then for longer the following evening. Is she registering and responding to the death of her mate?
Typically, it is absence of calling from one of a territorial pair that will prompt an unpaired owl of the same sex as the ‘missing’ bird to cautiously investigate – the first step in the process of starting to create a new pair bond and eventually replacing the dead mate.
By Geoff Lockwood