The owl files – Chapter 2: The Graduate . . . now that’s what I call progress!

19 June 2021

The Graduate . . . now that’s what I call progress!

Since I first recorded the owls mating on June 15, they have mated every evening before heading out into the park to hunt. Typically there has been little ‘courtship’ involved, with the male simply landing next to the female and then mounting her, but yesterday evening was very different.

The female was in her usual spot on the lower roof at 16:40, but she was much more alert – not her usual ‘dozy self’.  After a few minutes the male arrived, landing on the opposite corner of the parapet – about as far away from the female as possible. Usually, the female would glance across at the male, and then largely ignore him. This time she strode across to join him, stopping about 60 cm away. The pair then spent time watching activities in the park; following an aircraft as it passed high overhead and dozing. At 17:35, the male suddenly became very alert. He gave a single ‘Hoooo’ call followed by a series of soft ‘hoo hoo hoo hoo .  .  .’ calls similar to those given by males to entice females into the nests. The female crouched, her body horizontal, and the male mounted her.

The two photos were taken about half-a-second apart and afterwards the male flew off towards the bird sanctuary – leaving the female on the parapet.

I awoke several times during the night to the sounds of the male calling from the roof near the nest – so it looks like things are happening!

By Geoff Lockwood