April 20. Growing fast and so are the wings and instinct to get out of the nest and fly.
After falling out of a very small nest in early April and being relocated in a new man-made nest on April 13, thanks to the kind care devotion and concern of a lot of people, the two owlets resumed their life in the park. The parents were feeding them well and one could see them growing fast from one day to another. And their followers grew as well.
The big guns out in force.
Regulars who used the park daily, birders, nature lovers and photographers, a lot of photographers. Some came from more than 100 miles away. 20 to 30 people at peak times. The spring was a bit wet and there were many days when the youngsters looked soaked to the bone and miserable. Those days only ducks were happy. But life went on. Their feathers grew amazingly fast. They were doing a lot of wing stretching and flapping.
First signs of 'branching'. Getting close to flight and leaving the nest.
Almost ready to fly? Almost. Branching became a daily activity. At first, just a couple of feet away from the nest. Then a few more. Then a branch further out reached with a combination of jumping and half flying. I could tell where they’ve been by spotting the poop marks on branches. It was fun watching them develop.
Always together and so close
They were two very cute characters. Two brothers that were always very close together, grooming one another and bonding. The natural instinct to fly, wonder and discover the world around them was strong. And of course it happened again. One of them fell out of the nest and was missing. We became very concerned when only one of them was visible in the nest. I got to the park about 3 in the afternoon. It was an ugly day. Rain on and off, drizzling the rest of the time. Said hi to Jeff and Fred, two of the regulars, and we talked about the missing youngster.
One of them is missing. Looking for them all over for almost half a day.
They looked around the area for a few hours already but could not see any sign of the missing youngster. I started searching also. Couple of other folks showed up to help. We looked close and far. Nothing. It was getting late, after 5. I took another walk around looking and hoping. And then I saw him. Unbelievable.
When I looked behind me, there he was. All wet and a bit confused
When I looked behind me, there he was. Wet to the bone
He was in thick bushes right behind me where we were all the time earlier. On the ground and looking soaking wet and miserable. Looking at me like almost saying “Where have you been? I’m here I and need a little help to get back home with my brother”. Wow, I called Jeff and Fred and they could not believe it. They looked in the same spot for hours and could not see him. He must have been further back in the bushes out of sight. He saw me and we made a connection. Do you think?
A call to Bobby and he's back for another rescue
Again a quick call to Bobby Horvath and help was on the way. We kept an eye on the youngster. Got really worried when a couple with a big dog NOT on a leash walked by. With a security detail of four guys, the owl had nothing to worry about. And then we spotted the mother. I think she knew all along where her son was. They connected and the youngster started to walk away from us heading into thick brush and out of sight. Just for a minute or two. Within the hour Bobby arrived. By this time the young owl was up on a fallen trunk in thick brush.
Bobby and Fred with the lost owlet
Not a problem for Bobby. He went in got him and brought him out. We kept an eye on the mother. She might take some action to protect her baby. Everything was fine. Bobby checked him for any broken bones and gave us a thumbs up.
One last check and a bit of cleaning. The two of them should know each other by now
Ready to go up?
I'm smiling and so happy to have found him. He just wants to go home
A bit of cleaning from all the mud on the feathers and he was ready to get back up. Since I was the one who found him Bobby let me hold him for a few minutes while he got the ladder up by the nest. Then we let him on the ground for a bit.
Even though very young not afraid to challenge anyone.
Tough guy he was. He put on a mean face, puffed up his feathers making himself look big and threatening. He didn’t fool any of us. What a character. And then it was time to rejoin his brother. We all went home feeling good and relieved. It was a good day.
This second fall was only 11 days after the first one. Amazing to see how fast they grew in such a short time. This fall was more in line with what was expected.
'Branching' out farther and farther and farther
Them branching out and leaving the nest even though they did not fledge. Sure enough, a week or so later they were gone from the nest. This time we did not make a rescue call.
The boundary barricades were taken away. The crowd of followers thinned out quickly. A few of us, concerned, were still looking for them. For a few days they were not to be seen.
April 28. A day or two after saying goodbye to the nest.
Then they were found, in opposite parts of the meadow. Mostly roosting on a branch, practicing flying and calling for the mother at dusk.
On the ground after a fall. Using their claws to climb back up. They were pretty flexible and resilient
Within a week or so they were flying regularly, doing pretty good although the landings were still a skill to be developed. And then they got back together. A family again.
Link to image gallery here