The owl files – Chapter 4: Timing . . . timing . . .

27 April 2023

Timing .  .  . timing.  .  .

Yesterday evening just after 17:00, I checked the Evergreen Oak next to the Centre for the owls. The male was in one of his favourite spots – on the windowsill, but I couldn’t see the female. Up to the flat and out onto the GoldFields roof .  .  .  and there she was – chilling under the overhang of the Function Room roof. As usual, she was very calm, barely acknowledging my presence, so I settled down to wait.

Just after 18:00, the male began calling – from the sounds of things, still from his spot on the windowsill. The female did not respond however, and, after a few minutes of calling, the male flew up to the parapet of the function room roof to look for her. From where he perched however, she was not visible, and he continued to call. She flew out from under the overhang .  .  . and I was hoping that I would be able to photograph them mating, but instead she swooped off towards the trees at the back of the Centre. The male sat calling for a few more minutes, and then flew up to the nest box. He hopped inside, and I heard him giving the soft enticement calls that male Spotted Eagle Owls give to attract the female to the nest – the first time in the three seasons that this male has been around that I’ve recorded him performing this behaviour. The female failed to return however, and the male eventually flew off after her.

Often during these enticement displays, males will offer prey to the female to persuade her into the nest – so maybe he should try a mouse next time.

By Geoff Lockwood