It started earlier this year. A mother returned back to a nesting area as she has for the past 3 years. 3 eggs were laid in a very visible spot in the center of a school courtyard. She would stay with those 3 eggs day and night until they hatched.
I watched and watched making sure everybody was okay. At first most people didn't know about the owls. But as time went on, they would become the main attraction in the courtyard for everyone's viewing pleasure. In the past, most owlets died from her choice of "nest". One survived last year.
The days would get warmer and the eggs would get closer to hatching. Both owls went searching for food and brought it to the nest.
Several birders would also discover the delights of Great Horned Owls. Sally and Robert would film these next shots. The owls were vigilant and never left too far from the nest. They would fly back and forth making their presence known.
Eventually, two of the 3 eggs would hatch. And within a 3 week span, these birds would grow at an amazing speed.
They began to peak their heads up.....and grow more.......
And out on the ledge they would go....ready to fledge. And then at 5 PM, I received a call telling me that the owlets were gone. My blood pressure went up. Who took them? The owlets were attracting a lot of attention. Students were climbing over the sides of the square windows to get shots. And the birds faced near 100 degree temps. The odds were against the owlets and teenagers lacking common sense. But I held out hope for the owlets:)
I had a difficult night sleeping because there had been no communication whatsoever about the owlets getting rescued. It meant an early start to my day along with getting my AP, final exam stuff ready for next week.
I arrived in the morning and discovered that the left hand of our school didn't let the right hand know what was going on. A group of teachers took it to the next level without contacting the rest of us who had also been watching the owlets. I had been contacting people all over town like the Desert Museum or Wildlife Rescue in case something had happened to these owlets. When a student had thrown a ball into their nest area, I nearly flipped! ... And there were signs of dehydration. There were also too many people watching these amazing birds and everyone kept them up during the day. They were afterall famous.
So I went to all those involved who decided to go to the next step and make sure that the Wildlife Rehab group was legit. And they were. But again, there was miscommunication. The group involved did the right thing but made an impulse decision without all the facts. The Refuge believed the parents to be dead. When I told the person operating the organization that the parents were quite alive, there was a pause. But with everything said and done, I am still relieved that the owlets were "rescued". Getting to school everyday was a stress for me because you didn't know what the news would be.....but now, I have a number and contact to check up on them. I will have one more report in July on the owlets as the rescue organization will be presenting at the Tucson Botanical Gardens(where I volunteer as a docent). TBG is doing a special focus on birds and gardens this year because there has been an increase in birding around our area. Incredible stuff.
So I'd like to tell the Mom and Dad Owl. "Your babies (from my phone call) are with two other rescued Great Horned Owlets and they are doing well." One of the owlets would have died for sure if they hadn't been rescued. Both are eating plenty of food and will be re released back into the area in fall of this year. They are also certified with Arizona Game and Fish. So this story has a happy ending. But as the saying goes, where one journey ends, another begins......:)
I have so much more to share with you all. Sometimes I can't keep up with all this work, but I do it because it's something I definitely love:) A lot of exciting stuff coming up! More tomorrow....