The owl files – Chapter 2: Back to the beginning . . . .

08 December 2021

Back to the beginning . . . .

Since the missing female returned there have been a few developments. She has tended to roost in either the Cabbage Tree or the Evergreen Oak, with the male often roosting on one of the window sills on the car park side of the Centre. In the early evening the female flies to the lower flat roof – initially sitting amongst the overhanging vegetation, and then later heading for her favourite spot under the overhang.

The male has to be aware of her presence – only meters away around the corner, but shows no interest in approaching and yesterday he simply headed off around the back of the building – no calling or closer approach as he had done in my last update.

In many ways things seem similar to what was going on when this incredibly young and inexperienced male first appeared on the scene on 28 February 2021. Then though his awkward first steps to form a pair bond were because of his lack of experience. Now, he doesn’t seem interested.

Meanwhile, the chicks have abandoned their main roost site – at the back of the building on the parapet of the roof amongst the foliage of the Monkey Thorn. They have moved away from the building and I’ve not been able to find them for the past five days.

When they first left the nest they were totally dependent on the parents for food. Like kittens however they have a natural instinct to pounce on anything moving and they usually start hunting insects like “Parktown Prawns” (a kind of cricket) and beetles etc. As they become more proficient, they target larger prey like rodents, reptiles and frogs, and, possibly, even birds. They become more independent and slowly move away from their parents – usually leaving the park early in the new year, so it seems that at least that part of this strange breeding season is going according to plan!

By Geoff Lockwood