What a sight! Three 'not-so-little' chicks huddled together in the nest, when I woke up. Shortly afterwards, Pot Plant Owl joined her chicks - sitting on the lip of the pot. Perhaps we could coax Pappa onto the balcony for a short time to get the perfect family portrait, but that is wishful thinking for sure.
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PM - Jelani's First Flight
We knew it was going to happen soon, but we didn't expect it to happen as well as it did. In the early evening, Jelani and Indie flapped up to the pillar behind the nest tree and stood together. Teeny remained in the pot.
Without warning, Jelani just took off - and flew. Flew across our garden, around the tall trees and straight to a small roof over the neighbour's front door. This is the third year we've watched chicks in our garden, and this is the first time that any chick has managed such a feat. Usually, the first flight is anything but spectacular - often a half-flying, half-crash landing effect a few feet away. Jelani's flight was truly impressive!
Not content with only showing off its flying skills, Jelani now attempted to 'climb / flap' up the wall. Directly above the roof where Jelani landed, is an air-con unit. Above that, is a satellite dish. Jelani got up to the air-con unit, rested a bit, and then got up to the satellite dish. The final hurdle was a 6-foot climb to the top of the roof, where Pot Plant Owl was standing watching her chick.
With every ounce of effort it could muster, Jelani manouvered like a mountain climber up the wall, using its talons and beak, and flapping its wings. Jelani rested for what seemed like ages, but have only have been 30 seconds or so, hanging onto the wall with its talons and beak. About a foot before the top, Jelani fell down onto the air-con unit below with a crash.
For a few seconds, there was no movement. Eventually, Jelani stood back up and moments later attempted the same thing again- to be met with the same fate. After two attempts, Jelani called it quits and moved onto the wall in our garden. There Jelani remained until we fell asleep. Jelani was well-fed by both parents, and was safe on the wall. The wall spot is popular with our first-time-flying chicks, because it gives them a good view of the balcony above, and allows the chicks a chance to see the neighbourhood without feeling vulnerable on the ground.
While all this was happening, Indie stood on the balcony pillar, periodically flapping wings furiously. Teeny was as good-as-gold and remained in the nest pot, also practising wing flaps. Both chicks had a number of meals brought to them.
Think for a second what it's like to be an owl parent now, like Pot Plant Owl and Pappa. They have to continue feeding all chicks, monitor Jelani's movements, hunt close enough to keep everything in sight, and protect the area, especially around Jelani. If they stop feeding for a while, the other two on the balcony might get restless and fly off too. And all of this is taking place in suburbia - cars driving past, people arriving home, dogs outside in gardens barking, and lots of other human movement and activity. This human activity probably actioned with a lot of noise, that will chase any rodents away, and force insects to hide - this in turn, making it harder for mom and dad to hunt close by.
I tell you, Life is not exactly easy for these owls.