Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Meet Owly

Meet Owly, our beloved first ever Dwight Ranch barn owl resident who gave us many nights of pure wonderment and joy. She sat on her eggs with persistence and commitment, and waited patiently by the door for her love to bring food to their new baby owlets. She screeched, calling out when they were hungry, and danced in the air with her mate when she needed a break from feeding. Her partner was steady, beeping in each night, indicating he had treats to deliver. Back and forth all night with lovely calls to his family that he was nearby and working hard to provide.

We miss our dear Owly and her family. They had no choice but to find another home. 

After one night filled with multiple feeding frenzies (we could hear the chicks get excited every time food was dropped off), Steve noticed something wasn't right. Sounds of wings slapping the box, aggressive squeals and squaks filled the air...not the usual beeps and chirps that we grew fond of. 

The next night, no baby feeding noises - just long, sorrowful calls from Owly, over and over, all night long.  No indication of any feeding was happening, and Owly came and went from the box all evening. We assumed maybe something happened to the male Owl and they weren't getting any food dropped off and Owly was calling out, with no help coming!

The next evening, we watched out our bedroom window as we had grown accustomed to doing, hoping to hear the babies once again. But this time we saw the pair, Mom and Dad, flying around the box. Owly went into the box again and this time she sat at the door looking out, crying over and over. Her mate flew to a nearby branch and perched silently. We watched, waiting for him to dive down and get food for Owly and her chicks. But he just sat there - still and quiet while Owly bellowed and sobbed at the door. 

We knew then...her babies were dead. 

Owly continued to cry at the door for hours, while her partner sat patiently on the branch nearby, giving her occasional calls letting her know he was there with support and compassion and love.

The next day, Steve peeked into the owl box, and opened it up, and sure enough, three owlets were laying dead in each corner. No indication of starvation. We cleaned out the box, and said our goodbyes to these beautiful creatures who were just starting to get their real feathers - who were well taken care of by mom and dad, and who were the innocent bystanders of a cruel natural world.

That very night, a new pair moved in, and we realized in that moment, that these very owls took serious and violent measures to claim their territory. It's been a couple of weeks with the new mates now, and we are having a hard time hearing their calls without feeling sad and mad about what they did to the owl family that we grew to love. 

But, we know there are new eggs that are nearly ready to hatch, so we are eagerly awaiting the sounds of new baby owlets chirping for food and doing their best to learn how to survive in this unrelenting and precarious barn owl life. 

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