May 20, 2000 - Marge puts on a show

Our living room has a cathedral ceiling and the gable wall is all glass (single pane glass, anybody want our heating bills?).   The big beam that supports the roof sticks out past the glass to support the wide eaves.  Two years ago, before we had cameras in the box, two fledges took up residence on this beam for about a week in early June.  they sat there pretty much all day every day and allowed us to walk out on the deck and stand directly under them.  Yesterday, Marge chose this spot to escape the kids for a while.  The kids names are snowy, snowball, puffball, and sugar - all named by Jessica, age 6, back when they were still very white and very fluffy.  Many people have asked us if this is the same owl that nested in the box last year (probably not, they mate for life and last year's male was an excellent hunter, this year's male...) or if maybe it was an owl that had been born in the box in a previous year (could be, or maybe that beam is just a good place to roost).  Anyway, here's the living room windows and you can sort of see the beam top center:

Here's the first picture I got, without artificial lighting and before I figured out how to get closer.  It gets pretty grainy by the time we crop it and enlarge it:

Given some halogen floodlights and holding the camera at arms length it gets a bit better.  Click on the image to see it twice as big.  Her ear tufts (which are not ears) are much bigger than I had thought from all of the other times I've seen her up close.  I clearly remember four years ago when trying to identify the first owl that occupied the box that we suspected Western Screech Owl, knew she should have ear tufts and had a really tough time convincing ourselves that she did.  This photo leaves no doubt:

Marge really isn't very big.  Here's a picture that includes more of the beam and the floodlights.  Those are your normal floodlights, the bulbs are maybe 4 inches across the face.  The beam that she's standing on is probably 15 inches tall and the one she's standing beside is probably 11 inches tall.  So, Marge might be 8 inches head to tip of tail, but she's more like 5 inches head to perch.

When Marge moved over to the Juniper I got very close.  The light had really faded, so this still photo isn't very good.  Once again, clicking gets you a bigger copy of the same picture.  In this picture you can almost see how substantial Marge's talons are.  Other birds have such slender legs and feet.  Marge has huge thighs (sorry Marge) and her talons are very thick and strong.

A bit later she let me get very close and I had switched to nightshot mode on the camcorder.  Here's a frame grab off the video: