We are woken up by a racket coming from the balcony. Pot Plant Owl is having a full conversation with Pappa, who in turn is replying with the occasional 'hoot hoot'. This goes on and on and on for what seems like an hour. By this stage, I'm fully awake and can't get back to sleep. Thanks a lot, PPO!
A more respectable time:
The chicks are over 4 weeks old now - although looking at Teeny, you'd never think so. Watch this space for more 'action' any day now with the chicks.
We've been asked why Pot Plant Owl doesn't protect / cover her chicks when there's a storm and why we don't offer the chicks storm protection. In previous years, Pot Plant Owl has covered her chicks when they were much smaller. This year, she nested early and our seasonal rains were late, so those two factors combined meant that when the rains came, the chicks were bigger than previous years. The chicks need to toughen up and get used to the climate and conditions, so perhaps that is why Pot Plant Owl has chosen to let them 'ride out a storm' by themselves. As for our involvement, no, we won't begin erecting shelters for them over the nest. We have to let Nature take its course and will only intervene when something goes wrong - like Teeny's illness.
Another question we've been asked is why do you think the owls chose your balcony to nest? There could be many reasons, but here are some we suspect are true:
- We built our house on part of an old farm. Perhaps years ago, Pot Plant Owl was born in the same geographical location as our house, and came back to the area (assuming her parents are no longer around). Perhaps our balcony is the site of a tree that she remembers
- We have no dogs or cats. Perhaps the lack of these potential threats is one reason why they chose the balcony
- The balcony provides an excellent vantage point over the neighbourhood and adjacent wetland where the owls hunt
- The balcony is very close to their main food source - the wetland - which we are trying hard to save from being developed
- Aren't Owls supposed to be Wise? That being the case, perhaps Pot Plant Owl just knew that we would not harm her, and we'd even give up our balcony for 3 months of the year so she can co-exist with us. Wise old Owl!
- But the main reason we believe is because Humans are destroying owl habitats (in fact, a lot of Natural habitats). Instead of feeling 'safe' nesting in a forested area, Pot Plant Owl is forced to choose an urban environment due to lack of habitat. It is not uncommon to hear of birds nesting in rooftops, high-rise buildings, across busy highways etc. While I love having the owls share the space with us, it saddens me to think that Pot Plant Owl and Pappa probably do not have much choice.
So, we do what we can without habituating the owls to humans too much. In African, and around the World, there are many superstitions about owls. Owls are persecuted because of these beliefs. By opening up our home (balcony) to all of you to watch the owls, we hope it will make you appreciate them, and see them in a different light if you have ever been weary or afraid of owls.
Nothing much happening during the day. The 'sleeping beauties' are making of siesta time. They'll be active tonight, for sure.