When we want to really see what the owls do, we video tape them on 6 hour video tapes.  There are  couple of reasons for this.  First they rarely do anything, so it's best to be able to fast forward through the tapes looking for action.  Second, some of the action is very fleeting, it's good to be able to replay, slow motion, and freeze frame.  Also, some cameras are easier to view on fast forward than others.  When an owl arrives at the box there may be only 1/2 second of video of the owl swooping up, landing, and jumping into the box.  But then the owl is in the box for the next few minutes or hours.  So, we can run simultaneous tapes outside and inside the box, watch inside for an owl to arrive, and then know just where to look on the outside tape for the landing.

We've done a fair bit of taping, but without babies, not much is interesting.  Here's some data:

On April 3rd tape from 9:00 PM to 3:00 AM

9:00 Dad brings food
9:19 Dad brings food
9:24 Dad brings food
9:31 Mom looks out but stays
10:14 Dad brings food
10:25 Mom sticks her head out
10:33 with Mom still out Dad shows up with food, see the April 3 page for the video
10:41 Mom sticks her head out
10:51 Mom sticks her head out
11:06 Mom sticks her head out
12:23 Dad brings food
12:59 to 1:15 Mom goes out
then until 3:00 AM - lots of Mom sitting on eggs

That's 6 food deliveries in one night and reasonably follows the pattern that Dad does most of his deliveries in the first few hours after dark.  Mom seems to go out for 5 to 15 minutes 2 or three times a night and once at the crack of dawn.  Hunting?  Coughing up owl balls?  Bathroom?

On April 6 tape from 8:00 PM to 2:00 AM

8:00 Mom not home, returns at 8:12
8:20 Dad brings food
8:32 Dad brings food
9:59 Dad brings food
10:14 Dad brings food
10:47 Dad brings food
10:58 Dad brings food
11:09 Dad brings food
12:29 to 12:38 Mom goes out
then until 2:00 AM - lots of Mom sitting on eggs

That's seven deliveries in three hours - Dad's a good provider.  We can't say exactly what he brings, the video of him in flight with food in his beak is too blurry.  One or two of them look pretty clearly like mice or moles, others look like pieces.  Mom takes them from his beak and devours them immediately.  Last year when she was cacheing food for the owlets we saw lots of mice, quite a few moles, and one gopher.

On April 16 tape form 7:30 PM to 1:30 AM - it's cold and raining - first bad weather since she started incubating

7:45 Dad brings food
9:09 Dad brings food
9:51 Dad brings food
10:53 Dad brings food
11:37 to 11:41 Mom goes out
1:20 to 1:24 Mom goes out

Dad was later than usual, deliveries were farther apart, there were only 4 in the time we were taping, one looked a lot like it might have been a lizard.  Not such good hunting in the rain.  Back in January and February when the Mom was roosting in the box, we timed her departure every night and arrival every morning.  She was very predictable.  So much so that I got to stand out in the fog one morning and watch her silent glide around the curve of the hill flying in ground effect just a foot or two off the ground to a big sweeping 180 up to the box and in.  A few nights there were big storms with very strong winds.  These storms blew up after she'd already left for the night and the winds were surely faster (20 to 25 mph, gusts to 35) than she could fly.  She wouldn't show up those mornings or all day the next day, but would be home exactly on time the following morning.  We worried like parents of a teenager the first time.

On April 17 we only taped for a short time, but Dad was in rare form

8:14 to 8:26 Mom goes out
8:20 Dad brings food
8:22 Dad brings food
8:29 Dad brings food
8:32 Dad brings food
8:35 Dad brings food

You have to wonder if he took down a moose and was tearing it up and bringing her pieces of it.

Some of the tape we got on April 16 was really good.  First, the 9:51 food delivery was different.  Dad normally comes in low and swoops up to the box, presumably this helps him bleed off some speed before he hits the box.  For this delivery he made this wonderful arcing turn in from behind the tree, straight toward the camera, and then into the box.  There's a photo sequence. And a quicktime video (318K). It's hard to estimate, but this little 8 inch tall owl appears to have a wingspan of over 2 feet.

Then we took some video with the inside the box microphone turned on.  Turning on the microphone degrades the video a bit, but it's still a really interesting video.  This is Dad's delivery of what looks like a lizard on April 16.  The first sound is Mom's stnadard call, then Dad's reply, a bit of silence, then another call from Mom, the final clunk sound is Dad's talons on the lip of the door as he leaves.  For those that don't want to download a video (1.9MB!) there's an audio clip (302KB).