The owl files – Chapter 2: The dating game . . . now that was something different!

21 April 2021

The dating game . . . now that was something different!

Since my last update, the owls have been behaving rather like an old married couple – basically ignoring each other! They have been roosting fairly close to each other but have tended to go their separate ways each evening – the female heading for her spot on the lower roof (under the overhang), and the male heading out into the park.

On Friday evening the female was in her spot early (before 17:00) but, instead of her ‘normal’ dozy self, she seemed quite awake and alert. The male called and she immediately became totally focused on the oak tree where he was still sitting. She moved out from under the overhang along the parapet .  .  .  and the male flew out and landed on the telephone line into the Centre building.  She was peering intently at the male, body tensed and horizontal – totally unlike the bored indifference she has shown him since his arrival. He flew up onto the parapet next to her – but about a meter away .  .  .  and she walked back towards the corner under the overhang – where she seemed to nuzzle the corner of wall and the parapet, almost as though she was preparing a nest site. The male in the meanwhile was rather restless – almost antsy, and soon flew off into the park. Are these the first signs that the owls are thinking about breeding? .  .  .  and are the male’s ‘youthful good looks and boyish charm’ having an effect?

Since then, things have returned to ‘status quo ante’ – with the birds roosting together but again going off in different directions. Yesterday evening, the female was again on the lower roof early and she flew up to the air duct outside my window as it grew dark. I climbed out onto the roof and she allowed me to approach to within 3 meters and photograph her. The trust we built up during the last breeding season is obviously still there!

By Geoff Lockwood