If you are old enough to remember Paul Harvey, you will know where the title comes from. While I was waiting for Virginia to come out on Sunday afternoon, I heard Daddy owl hooting in a cottonwood about 100 feet from the tree with the nest. Instead of the hoots we normally hear, that sound something like “whoooo whoo whoo whoooo” in the same volume, tone and intensity, he was doing three or four hoots cut short, followed by three longer more intense hoots — “wht wht wht whoooo whoo whoo”.
When I walked over to see what Daddy owl was up to, he was chewing on something, but I couldn’t see what it was. I walked around the tree trying to see if I could get in a position where I could see what he held in his claws, but I couldn’t see what he had because of how he was perched on the cottonwood. Finally I called out to him “Hey owl, what do you have?” He then proceeded to show me that he had a bird, and made the silliest faces in the process.
I also took a short video of him hooting and gnawing on the bird. I named it Great Horned Owl with Dinner. The video is posted after the last photo. You can hear him hoot, and watch him gnaw on his dinner. I assume he shared his bird with Virginia and Mama Owl, but I can’t say for sure, since I couldn’t stay around long enough to see the rest of that story.
The first line of Only The Good Dye Young, by Billy Joel, is “Come out, Virginia, don’t let me wait”. When I checked on this mama owl that has a nest in a cottonwood about a 3/4 of a mile north of us last week, it was cold and the owlet was trying to get under its Mama; therefore, all I got were photos of its fluffy tail end. This afternoon Mama was sitting on the edge of the nest, and I could see the tip top of the owlet’s fuzzy head. Since the binomial name for Great Horned Owls is Bubo virginianus, I borrowed the line from Billy Joel and said “Come out, Virginia, don’t make me wait.” As I changed my position under the cottonwood, I saw an eye peak out from one side of the “V” at the edge of the nest. From there, the owlet and Mama got into a variety of cute poses for me. They we quite animated in the bright, hot sun.
I was trying to get Beaker to pose for me when Spunk made it very clear that photographing a stinking bird in his presence is completely unacceptable behavior for me to be engaged in. Then Beaker got all ruffled over having me with a camera and Spunk in his face.
A couple we often see in the bosque, told me they had just discovered the nesting place of a pair of owls last night. When I got to the nesting area a few minutes later, there were two owls to be seen — a larger owl in a cottonwood, and another, smaller owl, in an elm tree next to the cottonwood. The larger female was out taking a break, I presumed. She was hooting up a storm on her perch in the cottonwood. The smaller owl was perched on a limb, a silent sentry, very alert, guarding the area. The sun had been down for fifteen minutes or so, forcing me to bump up my ISO to 3200 to get a somewhat sensible shutter speed. As I was photographing the owls, a chorus of coyotes started howling from the undergrowth all around where I was standing beneath the owls. The scene became surreal as I was standing in a small clearing, darkness falling all around, the owl hooting from above, and coyotes yipping and howling in surround sound.
The cranes that stayed in Corrales over the winter have flown north. Now we are seeing some of the stragglers flying north from areas further south. Every once in a while a group of cranes will circle over our house to gain altitude before continuing north. Cranes that fly in close to sunset roost along the Rio Grande before they continue their journey north at sunrise.