"If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature -- even a caterpillar -- I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature."              --Meister Eckhart

UPDATE Wednesday, April 18, 2017 Grapevine Screech Owl Cam

Hello Owlies!  A lot has been happening at the Screech Owl Howse. The fifth egg wasn't viable and didn't hatch. One morning we noticed it just wasn't there. We observed a similar situation a few years ago, and we suspected it had been broken and was eaten by the chicks or a parent. Such is nature. 

Mama Bae has been spending lots more time out of the nest box for several reasons: The owlets are large enough to keep themselves warm, it's getting crowded as the owlets grow and test their wings, and they don't need as much ongoing attention. Bae stays with Boo in a shrub just outside of the box, helping guard the nest. Sometimes she flies back in during the day when we hear a hawk screech or a jay harasses her out of the bush. When she climbs up to the portal to look out, all we can see is a blob because this blocks the camera view. 

A feeding frenzy begins every night about sunset, when both parents start bringing in bugs, lizards, and sometimes mice. We've seen more Rough Earth snakes (6-8 inches long) this year than ever before. The owlets need help with the snakes, as they are alive and squirmy. We've also noticed they need help with some of the larger bugs like grasshoppers and roaches. They spit them out, and Bae has to tear them up in pieces or feed them into the mouth at just the right angle. After that, it takes about five seconds to swallow a lizard, and not many more seconds to swallow a snake. Be sure to click on the Facebook icon above to visit our FB Screech Owl page, where we post videos with audio daily. Happy Hooting!

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017 UPDATE for the Grapevine Owl Cam

Four eggs have hatched, so we're now on hatch watch.  Woot!

It's almost 7P, and we just returned from the back yard where we spotted Boo in the shrub by the owl box.  As he looked at us I tried to nonchalantly look at him.  How do you nonchalantly look at an owl who's unabashedly looking back at you?  I tried to appear studious and wise as he watched me, but I couldn't maintain it as I imagined him saying something like, "Hey, where can a guy get a good vole around here?" Or, "Thanks for not trimming these shrubs, dude."  We'll post that pic on our Facebook owl page (link is above). 

We've learned from past years that this is a two-way street: They are observing us while we observe and study them.  That they're not afraid of our 30-pound dog Rusty, who regularly scours those bushes for his toys, tells me they've probably watched for weeks as we play fetch in the back yard.  I believe they know our voices.  They appear to be completely unimpressed with humans, as though they've seen it all before.  But we haven't, as every year we learn more and observe new behaviors.  Like we've read, Screech Owls are very well adapted to life in the city.  Whooooo knew? 

I will update the Facebook owl page daily, so you "owlies" can see (and hear) more fun and watch Boo and Bae raise their family.  Stay tuned, and thanks for sharing the fun!  HOOT!

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Sunday, April 2, 2017 UPDATE for the Grapeveine Owl Cam

Hi Screech Owl Fans!  What a busy night it was for the owls.  Bae flew out after midnight and we saw three owlets and two eggs! Even though those three eggs were laid over a span of six days, they hatched on the same day, due to a process known as delayed incubation.  Screech owls and other owls use this method as a way to compress the hatching rate of the eggs. This ensures the chicks hatch closer together so that the oldest is not 9 or 10 days older than the youngest. Nature is genius! 

Last year we saw what a big difference a few days make, as the youngest, we named him Fig, was at a big disadvantage from the minute he was born. Even compressed hatching doesn't gurantee uniform age and size, but it does help. Fig would have been at a larger disadvantage without it. 

Last night we got videos of Boo bringing in a mouse, a lizard, bugs, and a small snake (which continued to raise its head and slither around!). He will be even busier as Bae sits, eggs hatch, and owlets grow. It's likely that the last two eggs will hatch in the next two or three days, so stay tuned.     

 

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April 1, 2017 UPDATE for the Grapevine Owl Cam

Hi Screech Owl fans!

The first owlet in our little Screech Owl family in Grapevine has hatched! We were able to get a short video of mama Bae feeding the owlet just minutes after hatching. Click on the Facebook icon above to see it, and hear mama Bae cooing to her little one as the owlet squeaks and chirps. After observing  Screech Owls in our back yard for several years, the experience still gives me goosebumps and makes me tear up. Nature is miraculous. So full of God is every creature!

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March 29, 2017 UPDATE for the Grapevine Owl Cam

Hi Screech Owl fans! The eggs will start hatching soon! 

Today Mama Bae has been a little more vocal, calling from the nest intermittently to communicate with Boo, who is in a nearby tree, and her unborn owlets.  She left the nest about 8P tonight, and we saw no sign of a crack in any of the eggs.  We also haven't heard any pipping or other noises coming from the eggs. In years past these have alerted us to imminent hatchings.   

The web counter shows we have nearly 7,800 unique visitors who have landed on this tiny little owl page to watch the Eastern Screech Owls in Grapevine, Texas. Our Google analytics tells us that people around the world are watching!  The Grapevine owls have fans in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, Denmark, Spain, United Kingdom, and India.  HOOT!

Visit the Facebook page (click on the Facebook link above) to view videos of nightly activity in the nest box. Your comments or questions are welcome.  Have fun and thanks for watching! 

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March 18 UPDATE

Hi Screech Owl fans! Bae is diligently sitting on her clutch of five eggs, and she's spending less time out of the box in the evenings, usually leaving at dark for a few minutes. Boo brings her food several times throughout the night.  The eggs should begin hatching about March 27, and the hatching process will continue into early April. 

Visit the Facebook page (click on the Facebook link above) to view videos of nightly activity in the box. Your comments or questions are welcome.  Have fun and thanks for watching! 

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March 12 UPDATE

Five eggs laid!  Hatching should begin about March 27.

Join us by clicking on the Facebook link above! 

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WHAT A HOOT!

Hello dear owl friends! Boo and Bae, our Eastern Screech Owls, are back! 

Here is their story: Boo and Bae moved in to our backyard nest box in Grapevine, Texas, last year.  The box is 13 feet above the ground with a 3-inch hole in the front, just right for little Screech Owls, who are only 7 to 9 inches tall.

After watching our owl-box cam on our TV monitor, we thought it would be fun to share the experience with friends and family. Last year we created a URL and started streaming on the web, so everyone could witness the miracles of nature as Boo and Bae raised a family (called a clutch) of five geeky owlets.  Within a few days we had hundreds of viewers, and the number rapidly grew to thousands. Kids in several classrooms were watching and studying the owls. What a hoot!

Everyone had fun watching the eggs hatch. Every night Boo dutifully hunted for food to bring home to the owlets, and we watched Bae lovingly coo and feed them. Boo and Bae did a great job caring for their clutch of owlets.

Baby Fig, who was the last born and much smaller than his siblings, was at a clear disadvantage. Although mama Bae tried to ensure Fig was fed first, Fig had to work hard to keep up with his siblings. We watched in the wee hours of the night, rooting for little Fig to eat and grow stronger. 

Fig and all his siblings survived (according to research, that is against the odds). The older owlets fledged in late May and stayed in our yard and our neighbors' yards, testing their wings and learning to hunt.  But little Fig hung back, afraid to take the leap out of the box.  He watched his parents rewarding his siblings with food and teaching them to hunt, but he couldn't jump. Mama Bae checked in on him every day, encouraging him to fledge. Days later, when he was ready, little Fig flapped his wings and jumped. We could almost hear the hoots from Fig fans around the world!  Go Fig!

As is typical, each owlet moved on to find a home of his own. Boo and Bae remained in the area, and they recently moved in to nest again. It will be difficult to top last year's cliffhanger, but it's always interesting and fun!  Thanks for joining us, and stay tuned for more owl fun!