The owl files – Chapter 2: The dating game . . . . off to a slow start!

2 March 2021

The dating game . . . . off to a slow start!

I am really interested in recording how the process of replacing the lost male will unfold. Some years ago we lost the female to secondary rodenticide poisoning right at the start of the breeding season. In that case I had just gone to Free Me to weigh and measure all the Spotted Eagle Owls at the rehabilitation centre to try and identify a female that I could introduce to the male but, on my return to the Centre, the male was already showing a new female the nest box! No problem .  .  .  .  and no help needed!

This is the first time that I have been around when the male of the pair has been replaced however so yesterday evening I was outside to check on progress. The new male was perched in a different tree, about 15 m from the female. He started calling just after 18:15 and was looking up at where the female was roosting. At 18:35, he flew across to the Blue Gum at the bottom of the car park. He was very alert, and was intently watching where the female was still perched in the Evergreen Oak. After calling a few times he flew to the roof, landing opposite, and only a few meters from the female. A few more calls .  .  .  . no obvious reaction or encouragement from the female, and the male flew off towards the Tea Garden. Looks like this (the process of forming a new pair bond) could take a while !!

Interestingly, after her weeks of calling, I’ve not heard the female since I first heard the male early on Saturday morning.

By Geoff Lockwood