The owl files – Chapter 2: The dating game . . . no fireworks yet

18 March 2021

The dating game . . . no fireworks yet

The owls have been roosting closer together (about 2 meters apart) in the Evergreen Oak next to the Delta Environmental Centre, but I have still to record closer interactions such as mutual allopreening (birds preening the heads and faces of each other), or courtship-feeding (the male offering food to the female). At dusk, the female usually flies to her favourite spot in the corner of the lower roof under the overhang – where she continues to doze until it is dark. The male usually heads off in a different direction however.

Yesterday morning, just before 06:00, I surprised the male taking advantage of the rain and enjoying a good shower on the parapet of the back roof of the Centre. He was half-crouching, with his wings fanned out .  .  . and the feathers on his head were thoroughly soaked and plastered to his skull. He looked really ridiculous! He flew off towards the oak before I could get the camera though.

In the evening, both birds were on the lower roof, but they were at least 5 meters apart – the female dozing, and the male keenly watching two Dark-capped Bulbuls that were chattering excitedly from the overhanging foliage less than a meter away. He has still to learn that he has no chance of catching one of these irritating visitors and just to ignore the mobbing behaviour!

By Geoff Lockwood