The owl files – Chapter 3: Lots going on!

17 August 2022

Lots going on!

This morning, when I hit the roof to start a new atlas card for the Delta pentad at 05:55, the female was calling from the dead palm stump in front of the Centre – silhouetted against a spectacular sunrise, and the male was answering from the Blue Gums down towards the sanctuary. After a few minutes of calling back-and-forth, the female swooped down to ‘her’ spot in the Tea Garden, with the male continuing to call from the gums. The female then appeared on the parapet of the lower roof and was soon joined by the male .   .   .  a few more calls, and then they mated – only the second time I’ve recorded this at this stage in the breeding season.

The birds settled on the parapet about 1m apart .   .   . and then the crows came! Three Pied Crows began buzzing the owls, swooping down repeatedly at them and passing within centimeters. A few minutes of this, and the female headed back to the nest box. The male however remained on the parapet. A crow landed on either side of him, perching about 1m away – Mexican stand-off! The male then ran along the parapet towards the first crow, who flew off calling .   .   . and then chased off the other one in the same way. A crazy sight that I only wish more people could have seen! The male then headed for his roost in the Evergreen Oak.

I then checked on the nest and found the two chicks standing next to the female looking alert. A concern however is that there were no signs of any uneaten food in the nest, something that has been happening for several days now. It seems that the male may be battling to find enough prey.

Female owl at sunrise
Female owl at sunrise

By Geoff Lockwood