Branchers…NOT

OK. Forget everything I said last post. I do not even know where to begin. So much has happened in the three hours immediately following my last post. I wrote this last night and am posting it this morning. To sum it up: the owlets are SO not ready for prime time as Branchers that it is both sad and comical, as the photo above says it all without any more explanation. But I can’t help myself; I am going to try to ‘splain.

But first we have to review what happened between that photo story and the one that happened in between the last post. I know, between and between. Hard to figure.

Our neighbor, Don Juan (more about that later), is in this whole ‘what are the owlets doing now’ thing all the way with us. Earlier, we had filled him in on our adventures last night and this morning. We observed the (premature in hindsight) Branchers together and we were all watching and monitoring.

So about the time I was posting our success at getting the little rascals all situated back in the tree safe and sound, Don calls: “there is one missing”. Out we go and once again, owlet is in the garden.

In the garden again
In the garden again

Don said the mom was feeding it and it fell. So we grab our gloves, pail and towel and Scott puts the ladder back up.

Passing inspection
Passing inspection

We inspect, owlet seems fine. We decide to put back on same branch as other owlet (still in tree, Mom squawking). We do not even bother with head gear. This is getting routine. Don observed that they seemed like they were trying to be together and that may have contributed to the fall. So we put it back on same branch. Mom is squawking but not as aggressive as other times. Is she fed up? Used to us? Wanting to get on with the hunt? Wondering why/how she got pregnant?

One owlet is markedly larger than the other. We think Happy Feet is the larger and the one we nicknamed Klingon is the smaller and sometimes referred to as Twinkle Toes. I know, I know. They are not pets. Do not name them. But we cannot help ourselves. We have other names that are not approved for this family friendly blog.

"They are NOT pets!"
“They are NOT pets!”

We decide to put TT back on the same branch as Big Brother/Sister. Up we go with bucket. Place on branch. All good. We check numerous times out the window. Two owlets on the branch. Mom and Dad hooting. Kids squawking for dinner. All good. Have a beer. Until about 30 minutes later.

Don calls again. Can’t be good. We just checked! Mom came in to feed chicks and then he couldn’t see either one! Out we go again. It looked bad at first. One was spread eagled (owled?) face planted into the hedge and could not maneuver out or get upright. I pick it up and place in a box. Where is owlet number two? The smaller one? We look all around. We find it under the hedge. It is not moving. Its head is wedged in a fork of the branches, wings tangled. I reach in, telling Don and Scott I think we lost one. I gently wedge it out and it starts clacking at me! I went from near tears to joy, so happy to hear and see that remarkable spirit and survival for life. I snuggle it to my chest. I know. I know. NOT a pet.

Now what to do? This is now the 5th and 6th time. They are clearly not ready to be branchers. I call The Center for Birds of Prey but it is after hours. I leave emergency message. I call friend that is good friends with exotic vet that volunteers at Center. In the meantime, we discuss. It is almost completely dark now.

I want to bring the box with birds into garage for the night and figure it out in the morning. Scott is checking out a neighboring abandoned squirrel nest. He is afraid the birds will starve overnight. They had not been fed yet. We can’t feed them. We learned at the Birds of Prey Center that they will imprint on us and not be able to survive in the wild. (Just for one night?) Scott reports that the close by nest is sturdy and lobbies to put the twins in the nest. The parents are following everything we are doing. Squawking but not flapping, not frantic. Hard not to imagine that they are  thinking “I don’t know what to do with them, you take over”.

With all the research we have done and learned at the center and combined with our recent experience in the last week, we decide to go with Scott’s option. It makes sense to us. (Even though I could easily have taken them to bed with me!) Reason prevails.

It is hours later and I go out for bed check. There is no place to see them from a height advantage in the new location. I can’t see into the nest. I walk all around, listening and looking with not one, but two flashlights. Nothing. I know we made the right decision with the knowledge and experience we have. I hope they are safe in the nest, that Mom fed them and that we will be able to verify in the morning. We could put a ladder to the roof to see in but we would need daylight. We should be able to discern what is going on by listening. This is me trying to convince myself that everything is fine.

We hear back from our friend with the vet friend. She relays that best option is to fortify the nest. So OK, we were close by putting them in a new(ish) nest.

Scott is out for another bed check. He put them in the nest. He inspected it beforehand. Hopefully he can tell better than me that they are OK for the night. There is nothing else we can do. I am going to have another glass of wine and try not to worry.

He just came back in to hang out the upstairs window to see if he can get a visual in the nest. He can’t get the angle. We have to hope for the best. I bet we will be up on the roof tomorrow!

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