Rusty and Iris' first egg of 2014 was laid on Superb Owl Sunday, and conveniently hatched during the International Festival of Owls. The pip was first noticed on Friday, March 7. The next morning the pip was larger, but there were no more good views until almost 10 PM when Iris got off the nest and we got the first views of this special owlet, dry and fluffy already.
Earlier this week an unidentified wild owl paid a visit. She did quite a bit of squawking one night, along with some hooting, and more hooting the next night. She really got Rusty and Iris riled, and both Victor and Rhett (the resident wild males) came in to hoot also. I reviewed spectrograms to see if it might be Pandora, the owlet we lost track of a few days after releasing her. The voice was similar to one of our owlets, but not exact, so I'm thinking it wasn't her. She didn't seem to be with either Victor or Rhett. I'm curious if Victor will take a liking to her, since he's still single as far as I know.
Rusty brought food to Iris in the nest this morning, and Iris decided to go and eat it over on the hatch perch. This left Rusty the perfect chance to get a good look at the first egg of the yeat that he fathered. It must be a magnificent egg since it was laid on Superb Owl Sunday!
It turns out Stephen Colbert was right: today is Superb Owl Sunday!
We knew Iris was acting "eggy" and spending lots of time in the nest. We now know what egg laying behavior looks like, but didn't see it last night or early this morning. But this afternoon we were sitting in the living room watching Owl TV as usual. Hein mentioned Iris' back feathers were starting to lift up, which they do during egg laying. Then the phone rang and critterwatcher, one of the chat room moderators, said she thought Iris was laying an egg. Sure enough, she was very obviously laying an egg!
It came out pretty easy...it only seemed to take 5 minutes tops. She didn't look as nauseous as last year while laying either.
So tune in on February 5 to watch egg #2 be laid. If Iris is like last year, the eggs were laid EXACTLY 72 hours apart. So that would be about 3:15 PM Central time.
The really egg-citing thing about this laying date is that this egg should hatch the first day of the International Festival of Owls! Wow.
Still no egg from Alice, but maybe she's happy with the replica egg I gave her to encourage her to lay her own.
Iris is starting to feel eggy. She's started sitting in her nest now, and for longer periods of time. I haven't noticed many belly feathers falling out yet, but that may not start until just before the first egg.
In this video Rusty brings food to Iris, which she eventually accepts. She doesn't eat it, but instead flies to the hatch perch to cache it, then returns to sit on the nest. She will stop eating or eat very, very little before laying eggs. There's only so much room in a bird's abdomen when you need to stay light in order to fly. So not eating could indicate eggs are on the way.
If you're a regular to the Rusty and Iris live cam, you have probably "met" at least some of our chat room moderators. A few have opted to let you see the face behind the name so you can get to know them just a little bit.
Merle Russell, aka merlibird, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She spends a lot of time with her grandsons; she has four and loves them all very much. The rest of her time is spent watching Rusty and Iris, the world's most wonderful owls according to Merle! She admits to have a 'thing' for Rusty, but most of you all already knew that.
Maxi23 (Maxine Keene in real life) lives in metro Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She participates in various classes at the gym: power-flex, Pilates, yoga, Insanity and other cardio routines. She enjoys watching and learning about Rusty & Iris and their offspring. She has a great appreciation for the interconnectedness between animals, plants, and minerals.
The International Owl Center advances the survival of wild owl populations through education and research. We plan to accomplish our mission through biological and cultural programs and displays, green building design, citizen-science and other research, international exchange of information, the World Owl Hall of Fame, the International Festival of Owls, and other means.