Screech Owl Chronicles

This is the story of a pair of Screech Owls that visit my place every year.

For those that know me, you have seen most of these pictures before. I thought I would tell the complete story in one single post, dedicated to these little owls.

When we moved here in 2005 we were living in a tiny run down mobile home. Just outside was a huge scraggly pine tree with a single hole in it, way up high. One night Mike reported to me that he saw a bat on the electric wire running just outside the lanai. So we investigated.

With some stealth and a spotlight we found this guy in the copse of trees nearby, so we knew it was was an owl. In fact there were two. We could hear them call back and forth to each other. It's a really a soft cooing noise that rises up, a trill. I don't know why they call them screech owls because I have never heard them actually screech.

Later on, I noticed this guy, sticking his head of the hole. Now we know where they live.

Life went on and we didn't see hide nor hair of these guys and then, several weeks later I saw this baby sticking his head out during the day. We were really paying attention then! 

One night a few days later we heard some something beating on the branches in the copse nearby. We ran out and watched as the little one was making his first flight and caught a few pictures, too.

Since then we have learned that the Screech Owl will mate for life. We have watched every year and about the same time, mid March, we will see one of these guys sitting in the hole obviously waiting for his/her mate to arrive for the year.

Maybe we weren't paying enough attention but there were several years when we would see one for a week or so but never see any babies. This year we paid close attention and sure enough, about the middle of March, look who showed up. He, as usual, sat outside during the day for about a week and then disappeared. We were hoping they were busy... you know what I mean?

 And sure enough, about a month or so later we see one of the babies!

OMG, look at the feet on this guy!

Wait, there are two of them!

They are getting close to fledging... I woke them up from their nap...

One is slightly bigger than the other. He must have hatched earlier. And the little one in front does not look happy! I hope that doesn't come to haunt me later...

And the day comes, I actually got to watch this guy climb up out of the hole and to the top of the tree. WHERE'S MY BRAND NEW 63x ZOOM CAMERA!?

Got it! I knew he was about to fly away so I went into the nearby copse of trees and...

And there he is! That's daddy owl (or momma owl) waiting on standby for his baby's first flight. 

I didn't see either in the hole the next day so I guessed his little brother was in the fledgling business, too. Yup! 

So, out I go with my brand new camera. I see an owl here, I see an owl there. I'm fighting with the camera to get the shot. I can't get it work! I don't know all the knobs and buttons and it's dark and I'm being eaten alive by mosquitos! 

This is the only worthwhile shot I got that night, just before he made a pass at me and smacked me upside the head. Or was it his little brother? I don't know. I was all... change setting on camera, smack a mosquito, try to focus, fly away, itch like hell, change the setting, get winged by an owl, smack a mosquito, try to focus, itch like hell, get winged again......

I gave up, took a Benadryl and slept for 12 hours.

 The little one  looks like Gonzo!

I haven't seen any of them since...

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