"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 Friday, May 5, 2017 www.grapevineowlcam.org
Hello Owlies! This will be our final update for the 2017 Eastern Screech Owl Season. What miracles we have seen! Last weekend the owlets fledged. As predicted, Digger was the last to jump. "Jump" is an accurate word to describe how owlets leave the nest, as they don't know how to fly when they leave. After exiting, the fleglings never return to the nest box. They will stay in the nearby trees for 8-10 weeks, while the parents teach the owlets to hunt and fly. Then the fledglings venture out to find their own territories. Roughly 75% of them will not live to see their first birthday due to predation and auto accidents. Fortunately Eastern Screech Owls are not an endangered species.
We finished the season with more than 16,000 unique visitors to this website. We had viewers in Australia, Bahamas, Northern Mariana Islands, Brazil, Mexico, Denmark, Turkey, Canada, India, UK, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Kazakhstan, Spain, and Asia. It was global! The owl pair should return to the box next year, and we plan to broadcast on or about March 1st. We are considering upgrading our equipment to enhance the experience. Regardless, we know it will be an amazing insight into the hidden world of Eastern Screech Owls. So full of God is every creature!
If you have any comments or suggestions, click on the FB icon above and leave us a message. Thanks to all of you who shared this amazing gift with us! We'll see you next year! HOOT!
UPDATE Thursday, April 27, 2017 www.GrapevineOwlCam.org
Hello owlies! The owlets have grown at an amazing rate! They will fledge in a few days. Our first owlet hatched on April 1 this year, and studies show that they begin fledging about 30 days after hatching. Today they have competed with each other to jump up to the portal and look for mom, who is very close by in a shrub. When they're not jumping, they're flapping their wings and testing their voices. Mama Bae will now spend more time outside the box rather than inside. Eventually she will coax each owlet out, usually with food, and usually on successive evenings.
In past years we've observed that some owlets are very brave, and others are more hesitant to jump. They don't know how to fly when they leave the nest, but Mom seems to know when each is ready. Last year Bae waited several days for the last owlet, we named him Fig, to jump. Fig's four siblings had jumped and survived; they were hanging out in the nearby trees with Daddy Boo. Three or four days later, Fig was still in the box, alone. Bae had to achieve a delicate balance between feeding and coaxing Fig. She continued to feed, but it was minimal, as that is how the moms get the owlets to leave the nest. She patiently coaxed him after dark. We had never observed such a lag time for the last owlet to fledge, and I was concerned Fig might get left behind, not knowing how much patience Bae had. I called a friend and owl expert at Blackland Prairie, an excellent owl rehab facility outside of Dallas, and he had not seen this situation either, but he encouraged us to give it another day or two. I had no choice as I was in Colorado, but I wanted to fly home to rescue Fig if he was abandoned.
Patient mama Bae handled it expertly (of course), and eventually Fig mustered the courage to jump. Our neighbors reported to us that Fig had fledged and was in the bushes. What a relief! And what fascinating lessons and miracles of nature we have observed! The owls are such a sweet blessing. So full of God is every creature.
Be sure to click on the FB icon above to visit our owl FB page, where we will continue to post videos (with audio) of the owlets until they have fledged and leave the yard. HOOT!
UPDATE Wednesday, April 19, 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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
March 12 UPDATE
Five eggs laid! Hatching should begin about March 27.
Join us by clicking on the Facebook link above!
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.
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!