Thursday, May 18, 2017

Western Screech Owl Part 2: Dinner is served

Guest post by Dan Weisz

Over the past week I’ve been able to observe the parent Western Screech Owls taking care of their growing young.  At this point, I do not know whether there is just one owlet, or two or three.  There is only room for one owlet at a time to stick their head out of the nest hole.  Within the next week, the babies may leave the nest when they “fledge”.  At that time, I’ll know how many young there are and I hope to get some nice family photos from that point on. 

In the meantime, dinner is delivered nightly.  Here are a few of the photos I’ve been able to get.  In this one, a parent has just delivered a centipede, from their beak to their youngster’s beak, and the parent is taking off for the next hunt.  The owlet’s eyes are closed and if you look closely, you can see both ends of the centipede.

On another night, the first meal was what appears to be a Kangaroo Rat.  You can see the brown head and body and the tail which gets hairy near the end.

Here’s a better look at the rat’s distinctive tail.

Sunday night, the parent approached the nest hole and then landed on the roof of the box.  In this blurry shot, you can see dinner being carried by the owl’s foot.  A long leaf of some kind (pine needle perhaps?) got caught in the struggle.   The owlet is peering up at the action.

The owl is standing on the box, holding on to the pack rat. 

And now dinner is served!

The parent remained in the nest for a while, either helping to tear apart the rat or perhaps having a bite or two. When he/she emerged, you can see remnants of the rat on the owls beak and facial feathers.  And then the hunting continued.

I’ll continue my nightly Owl-TV vigils and report out in a few days.

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