THE 2010 ESTONIAN TAWNY OWL ENGLISH FORUM
Klaara & Klaus: The Journey Continues
(Summarized by: Helen Darbyshire [HelenD], Surrey, BC, Canada – June 12 2010)
For the purposes of this summary, March 14 2010 was selected as the start date, and June 11 2010 as the end date. There were 4,094 posts in total on 205 pages. Combined views for the Forum since inception (February 07 2009 to June 12 2010) stands at 121,269 views. Forum users from 19 countries posted to the forum this year. The first egg was observed on April 06 2010, and by April 14 2010 there were a total of 4 eggs. The first egg hatched on May 07 2010 and by May 12 2010 all the eggs had hatched. Only one owlet survived to fledge, leaving the nest on June 10 2010.
The location of the nest was the same as in 2009, in a tree next to a road, and traffic noise was often evident. People were often heard talking and at one time a classroom of young children seemed to be nearby. The surviving owlet was named “Biggie” by forum users both for his size and for his big feet, which were often in evidence. Biggie seemed particularly startled by traffic noise once he learned to sit at the nest opening, often falling to the bottom of the nest when traffic went by.
The winter of 2009/2010 was particularly harsh in Estonia; temperatures were very cold and there was a lot of snow, which remained on the ground for longer than normal. Spring was delayed by at least one month, which in turn delayed the mating season by one month. The hard winter led to a reduced food supply and small mammals and birds were hard to come by for the owls once they had to hunt for their offspring. There seemed to be a lot of insects/parasites/flies in the nest this year. The death of three of the owlets was attributed to parasites and starvation.
Biggie spent 10 days in the nest by himself before fledging. During this time, he was observed burying the body of his dead brother, dancing around, stretching, sleeping (a lot!) and climbing up and down to the entrance continuously towards the end of the watching period. He spent a lot of time calling to his parents. Perhaps in an effort to get him to fledge, the parents would often ‘tease’ him by showing him food and then leaving with it. Biggie proved to have quite the personality and although the times between feedings grew longer and longer, he managed to get his parents to feed him up until the day he left.
This year the camera was available in colour, which sometimes worked and sometimes did not. However, all screen captures were of excellent quality, and high-quality photographs and videos were posted by the forum users. One of the benefits of the colour camera was that forum users were able to see the owlets had ‘pink spots’ on their bodies as their feathers grew in, which could not be observed last year.
Unlike last year when many species of birds were observed visiting the nest, the only reported bird this year to visit was a starling.
There were some weather observations, namely rain and wind. One time Klaara appeared looking particularly wet.
After the first egg was laid, Klaara would often leave the nest to hunt. It was not until all four eggs were laid that she began to incubate them. There was a definite lack of food this season, and at no point were more than 5 prey observed in the nest; there was certainly not the ‘food larder’ that we saw in 2009. Prey consisted of moles, mice, birds and frogs. Both owls hunted and fed their offspring.
Forum users were from the following countries:
Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia,
Slovakia, Sweden, The Netherlands, Ukraine, USA
There was a tendency to go off-topic, especially during the couple of days when the camera was down, when the cable was accidentally severed by a lawn mower. The death of three of the owlets created much philosophical discussion between forum users, especially when the 3rd owlet died, as it had seemed relatively large and healthy. Some other threads may have better posted under the “Conversations” forum but that is merely my observation and not intended to be a criticism of anyone, as the threads certainly gave forum users the chance to get to know one another better.
Forum users are commended on their ability to communicate across 19 countries and 2 continents, and thanks goes to those who maintain the webpage and who work so hard to keep the camera running and make the observations possible.