Saturday, April 09, 2005


The links page of this website is not quite complete. For those of you who want to check out Steve Watson's webcam, focused on a pair of kestrels nesting in a box near his California home, below is a link. Above is a photo he took on March 8 of the male of the pair just below the nestbox. [Oh, if only we had a camera to see the private life of Pale Male and Lola! How many eggs are they sitting on? Well, we'll know soon enough. Due date is NEXT WEEK.]

Where to look for Blakeman posts -- a new plan

Dear Readers:

I know that many of you look forward to reading John Blakeman's fascinating posts about Red-tailed Hawks, about Falconry, and about a variety of other subjects. That's why I've included in this website a separate blog for Blakeman writings and correspondence. But it's not always convenient to click back and forth between several places.

From now on here's my plan: I'll post new Blakeman stuff on this page, just as it used to be on the old website. I'll also copy it into the Blakeman Blog. People then can go to that site to look up old Blakeman writings. It will be complete. But to see the latest posting, you will be able to stay on the Nature News page.

Blakeman on the Proliferation of CP Redtails

Donna Browne sent John Blakeman a report of some of the other redtail pairs making nesting attempts around Central Park and its periphery -- the Trump-Parc pair that seems to be incubating eggs high on that building on Central Park Sout, the 97th Street pair that suxccessfully nested in a tree in mid-park last year, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine pair [technically not CP, but near enough] and several other poissible nestings. Here is John's response : At the very end I have one more comment in response to his letter.

Thanks for the updates on the "other" CP red-tails. As you pointed out, the topic of the other CP pairs has not been very publicly addressed. As a raptor biologist I think the CP red-tail story must include all of the red-tails in and near Central Park. As remarkable as Pale Male is, he's no longer the only story. The developing, greater story is how the species itself is colonizing Central Park, and that involves a host of related phenomena, including (as always) prey availability, hunting competition, territory definition and defense, post-fledging hunting experiences for the new eyasses, migration away from NYC, and a bunch of others. It's a classic population biology problem, no longer just the study of a single pair.

I'm not suggesting that continued attention shouldn't be paid to the 927 pair. It should be. But the effects of adjacent pairs and other unmated and immature birds ("floaters") all competing for the same food and nesting territories is the real story. You can see, then, why I'm so interested in learning about the other pairs, too.

I find interesting the several accounts of other pairs failing in first and second nesting attempts, just as Pale Male did. This frequently happens in wild rural pairs, especially, I think, when the involved birds are young and inexperienced, just as in CP. What, then, will be the nesting success rates when there is a larger experienced resident adult population? Right now, except for Pale Male and Lola, all the birds trying to nest are just two or three years old. Things will get interesting when these birds get into their fourth and fifth years. I'm wondering if they won't then take on more typical rural territory sizes and be less accommodative (dismissive?) of nearby adjacent pairs and floaters. Will a population of older adults competing among themselves be less tolerant of either interloping young or nearby adults?

Conversely, is the CP red-tail environment so favorable that when some sort of population equilibrium is attained the birds will be -- as they appear to be now -- a bit social? How will this sort out as the Central Park red-tailed hawk population ages into maturity, when the age curve of the entire population has the shape of established wild rural ones? In the wild, aging adults predominate. Not yet so in Central Park. Right now, the population is bloated with young. Pale Male is the only bird that's been around and knows the entire Central Park score. (And he reads it like a great conductor, from memory, never missing a cue.) The others are still feeling their way through it all.

Wish I lived in New York, so I could watch this first hand. (Well, actually I wouldn't wish to live in NYC - it's an otherwise foreign environment, far too hectic, space-confined, and fast for my laid-back approaches to too many things. But Central Park and its hawks, those I can relate to.) So please be my biological eyes, as you have been. Thanks much.


John A. Blakeman

My additional comment:

John notes a parallel between Pale Male's two unsuccessful nesting attempts and the failures of some of the other CP redtails. But as I see it, their main problems in years past have been the absence of spikes to hold down the twigs at the various ledges they have chosen for their attempts. There were three
unsuccessful nesting attempts in a row on a high ledge on the Annenburg Building of Mt. Sinai hospital. [So these birds must have been older than 2 or 3 years. Don't forget that if, by any chance, these are Pale Male offspring, the first brood fledged in 1995!] The ledge had no spikes, needless to say. In the spring of the 4th year a successful nesting was observed in mid-park -- at 97th Street -- in a tree. Now the 97th St. nest was directly to the west of Mt. Sinai. It is logical to conclude that the Mt. Sinai pair finally gave up and moved to a tree a bit to the west. So their failure was not due to immaturity, as Pale Male's failures in 1993 and 1994 probably were, but were due to the spikelessness of their chosen ledge.

Similarly, the failure during the last two [or was it 3] years of the Trump- Parc pair might be attributed to the smooth ledge they have chosen, rather than to immaturity.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Pale Male and Lola Update

This photo of Pale Male, by CAL VORNBERGER appeared in the March issue of Audubon Magazine in an article about the nest-removal crisis. Cal's picture of Pale Male also appeared on the magazine's cover.

And now a reminder: April 15th is just about a week away. That is the day I predict we'll have a blessed event in the new and wonderful nest atop 927 Fifth Avenue. [It could be even earlier...]

Three Little Screeches--a few weeks ago

Photo of baby screech-owls in North Woods by Lloyd Spitalnik
to see his brand-new website of nature photography click on link below

4/8/05--Yesterday's Notes from the Hawk Bench


Sunset 7:26PM,
Temp 74F,
Partly Cloudy,
Wind SW 7MPH,
Gusts 15-25MPH,
Prey Tally-None Seen

Conrad reports a nest exchange at aprox. 2:30, Pale
Male off, Lola back on.
2:37PM Lola on the nest, head up, alert, then down.
2:53PM Pale Male perched on Oreo antenna.
3:00PM Lola peers through twigs to W.
3:22PM Pale Male up and W.
3:26PM Lola stands and preens upper breast.
3:30PM Pale Male back to Oreo antenna, Lola, with more
care than she has of late, very gently enters and
settles back into nest cavity. (?)
3:34PM Pale Male up and circling.
3:35PM Circles Dish/Stove Pipe, lands on left front
corner railing.
3:36PM Lola facing wall, tail visible above front lip
of nest.
3:47PM Pale Male back to Oreo antenna.
3:52PM Pale Male up and NW.
3:53PM Model Boat Pond count: 11 boats, 4
Mallards...and the water is now a rather remarkable
blue. Ric says algaecide was added today.
4:05PM Exit.


Jean visited the Pool Screech Owls at 2:25PM. All
five were on the same evergreen branch and the three
youngsters were wide awake.

Joann reports she saw what may be the new larger nest
for Pale Male III. Nearer Central Park W, (97th) then
the previous. Would be due S of the Pool. Rock
formation across from 97th, nest tree is Maple(?)
surrounded by Sycamores. Nest in upper branches,
approx. 50 feet up.

Submitted-Donna Browne

About those Equal Opportunity Kestrels

Please see the Blakeman Blog for his reply to Steve Watson's letter about Kestrels and their diligence at egg-sitting:

Effect of Flash Photography on Owl Retinas

5/8/05-- Many people have worried about the effects of flash photography [the flashes necessary to produce all those wonderful pictures] on the Central Park screech family.

I will post a paper presenting the other side of the story soon -- someone has promised to send it to me. In the meanwhile, here is something Rebekah Creshkoff has brought to my attention. She is the founder of New York City Audubon's Project Safe Flight that strives to prevent bird collisions with reflective glass. The project's volunteers also take care of birds that have, alas, already collided.

From -- This is by Graham R.Martin, a scientist who's written on light and bird collisions. This is excerpted from a passage he wrote:

"[I]t seems reasonable always to err on the side of caution in these matters. The scotopic spectral sensitivity and rate of dark adaptation of avian retinas are very similar to those of mammals, including ourselves. Thus if our own dark adapted vision is disrupted by the flash used then it is wise to presume that the bird's dark adaptation will be equally affected. If we are temporally "blinded" by the flash then so also will be the bird for a similar length of time. For example, if you knock out a fully dark adapted retina assume it will take up to 30min for full
sensitivity to be recovered.

"Remember also that disruption of dark adaptation is never likely to occur in nature. Ambient light levels change through dusk and dawn at a relatively slow rate. Even at the equator, where dusk light levels change most rapidly, the rate of change is more or less in step with the rate of dark adaptation, and so under natural conditions a bird will always be well adapted to the ambient. With the exception of entry from a dark roosting site into full day light, there are few, if any, natural situations where marked light level changes are experienced and hence dark adaptation

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Screech Owl Babies Growing Up 4/6/05

Huge photo by Lincoln Karim, 4/6/05 taken AFTER the flyout, as one of the fledglings lingered on a branch across the West Drive before descending into the deep dark woods

Owl Babies Getting Bigger

They're getting little ear tufts, the three screech-owl fledglings up in the North Woods. Ever since the discovery of the little owl family on March 19 by Malcolm Morris, groups of worshipers have been gathering every day -- even in the pouring rain -- to watch them end their day of sleeping to take off for the night.

They started out like schmoos, those Lil Abner creatures with round blobbish heads and indeterminate bodies. [See photos somewhere below]These heads were grey and feather, but still shmoo-like. Now they are slowly taking on the narrower, wiser-looking visages of their parents. Of course the word wise is anthropomorphic here. Owls are not the wisest birds by any means. [the crow family wins the intelligence prize.]

Yesterday was the warmest day of the year, by far. It was disconcertingly warm, almost hot, as if the year had gone directly from winter into summer. Maybe even the owls were hot out in the open in their evergreen east of the Pool. [OK Owl Police, I've given a clue to their location. So arrest me.] And speaking of police, yesterday just before flyout a squad car pulled up and two officers of the Central Park precinct came out to gaze through our telescopes and ooh and ah at the owls.

Fly out occured at 6:40, a little on the early side. Perhaps the birds were eager to get into the lower temperatures of the deeper woods. And into the deeper woods they flew, directly east into the area of the Loch and Ravine, where one of the most serious and widely publicized Central Park crimes occurred a few years ago, and where the owl watchers, who included Bruce, Lincoln, Donna, Jim, and a few miscellaneous bikers who stopped to see what we were all looking at, chose not to follow.

What a day! - 4/7/05

Yellow-throated Warbler, an uncommon Central Park visitor

FLASH!!! This just in from Lloyd Spitalnik:
I just received a call from Tom Fiore, where he and at least a dozen other people are enjoying a Yellow-throated Warbler in Central Park. The bird is located at the Laupot Bridge which runs across the end of the Gill in the Ramble. Hopefully it will stick around until at least tomorrow


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher [Looks like a miniature mockingbird]

Today, an amazing arrival of spring migrants, and also of migratory spring birdwatchers. Chris Cooper shows up like clockwork at the beginning of April. A great birder, he'll be around until the end of May, racing around the Ramble, hunting intensely for each new bird. I'm just as happy to run into Chris each spring as I am the first blue-grey gnatcatcher. Which by the way, is on today's list. Not on the list below: a Green Heron, reported by Bob Brooks early this morning near the Upper Lobe. Also seen yesterday, a rare sighting -- a sleeping whip-poor-will, found near the Azalea Pond in the Ramble. And best of all --- four [count 'em 4] warbler species.

SITE; Central Park
DATE; Thursday, 4/7/05
OBSERVERS; Chris Cooper, Bob, Richard Lieberman, Dina
Benhur, Marcus, Pat Pollock, and others
REPORTED BY; Pat Pollock


AMERICAN BITTERN - flew up, circled and headed north
from Turtle Pond about 9 am or so (seen by Chris
Cooper, Bob and me)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - east end Turtle Pond
Louisiana Waterhrushes - 2, 1 Balc. Br. singing, 1
Pine Warblers - Great Lawn, east of Turtle Pond
Palm Warblers - Gr. Lawn
Yellow-rumped warbler - T. Pond
Red-breasted Nuthatch - eastern Pinetum
Great Egret
Cooper's Hawk - over Gr. Lawn
American Kestral - " " "
Field sparrow - Main. Fld. - Richard Lieberman, Dina
Swamp sparrows
Winter wren - Shak. garden
Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets
Song sps.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers
No. Flickers

Blakeman --More on Sexual Dimorphism

Please see the Blakeman Section on homepage for new postings today

Pale Male and [bigger] Lola, photo by Lincoln Karim, 2004

Also a comment from the Pasadena Kestrel guy sticking up for male hawks [at least the male kestrel]
Dash and Lilly, the California Kestrels

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Notes from the Hawk Bench

Sunset 7:24PM,
Temp. 64F,
Wind WNW 5MPH,
Prey Field Notes 4/05/2005

Tally-None seen,

AM report: Two nest exchanges.
3:10PM Nest Exchange, Pale Male out, Lola in.
3:43PM Pale Male circles in front of 927, then Ship
Shape, back to 927, then Woody, past Ship Shape, back
to 927, two passes, lands on nest and gives Lola a
twig, which she places.
3:47PM Pale Male off.
3:48PM Lola turns eggs, then settles, tail to bench.
3:51PM Lola shifts head to front, west.
Nina's report,(rendered in between bouts of math
4:00PM Lola is hunkered down in the nest, and her head
is only visible as a little flash of movement. Her
feathers (I believe) are being ruffled by the wind.
She is moving her head in a staccato way. She is
facing north, her head is north.
4:08PM Her tail feathers are probably the ones being
ruffled. By Nina.
4:27PM Lola stands up and stretches wings, preens
chest, preens anterior wing edges.
4:29PM Lola turns the eggs, standing in two different
positions but beak may have had three positions. Pale
Male on Stove Pipe railing.
4:31PM Lola settles half down, beak works (preen
gland?)base of tail, then full down out of sight.
4:40PM Lola very alert, looking west.
4:45PM Lola out of sight in nest.
5:00PM Lola stands, preens chest, long slides with
5:05PM Lola turns eggs, then digging motions. She
settles tail to bench, shakes wings out.
5:11PM Lola stands, rearranges twigs.
5:13PM Lola hunkers back down facing S.
5:20PM Pale Male off SS railing to tallest tree close
south of Stove Pipe, clips twig.
5:24PM Pale Male does many crosses in front of 927,
lands on nest with twig. Lola places twig.
5:25PM Lola off nest to N.
5:26PM Pale Male sits into nest, stands again, digging
motions, sits. Alert, looking N and W.
5:27PM Pale Male shifts, head to S. Lola out of our
sight. Pale Male settles out of sight.
5:50PM Pale Male alert, head up, looks, S and W.
5:53PM Pale Male submerged.
5:55PM Lola comes from N and flies directly to nest.
5:56PM Pale Male up and circles over 927 twice, then
up Fifth (north) to Green tile building (Barbara
Walters), lands second story down, third window from
SW corner. Looks into window.
6:04PM While Pale Male has his back turned, I notice
he has a several inch circumference dark spot on the
back of his head, Katherine, Katherine, Jean, Naomi,
look through scope, much discussion. Definite dark
spot. Water? Oil? Molt?
6:15PM Lola turns eggs.
6:17PM Pale Male still on Green Tile, turns front,
surveys area.
6:24PM Mallard Count=12, including Stubby. For those
of you who have asked after him, the protein sheaths
on his pin feathers, soon to be new tail feathers,
have mostly dropped. The raw spot is no longer visible
and Stubby, having gotten many pity peanuts and
sympathy treats is now quite round and just might
become alpha drake next year out of sheer bulk.
For those who don't know Stubby, he was the 33rd duck
when the other 32 Mallards in the Conservatory Water
(Boat Pond) turned into 16 mated pairs earlier this
The other Drakes wanted him gone (competition for
their mates?)or ugly (no nifty tail curls?) so
therefore chased him around the pond plucking his tail
feathers out. But that is long past and Stubby is
doing fine. In fact there's a new little hen who is
much darker than the others, who might just be giving
him the eye....
6:30PM Lola submerged watching W through twigs.
6:40PM Exit
Submitted-Donna Browne

Spring Report

Four warbler species have arrived [see report below by one of the park's hot-shot birdwatchers].. Chipping and Field Sparrows. And this morning the Early Birders saw a winter wren, another early harbinger of the migration season. It's warm and sunny in New York, the daffodils and miniature irises are up, the Cornelian cherries are blooming throughout the park. Squirrels are munching on elm seeds everywhere. Lola is sitting on eggs and the due date is...just a little more than a week away!

Report for 4/6/05:
An Orange Crowned Warbler was spotted in the SE corner of the Great
Lawn at about 12:10 pm this afternoon . It is in a flock that
contains multiple Chipping Sparrows, Goldfinch, 1 Palm Warbler and 1
Pine Warbler.

The Orange Crowned was foraging on the ground as well as flying into
a nearby tree.

Also, of note today, 1 Yellow Rumped Warbler by Polish Statue
(Turtle Pond)and 1 at the Central Park Zoo by Red Panda Exhibit.

2 additional Palm Warblers SE corner of Maintenance Field by a big
pile of mulch.

1 Pine Warbler Polish Statue.

2 Field Sparrows Shakespeare Garden when coming down steps from the

David Speiser

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Yesterday's Screech-owl Baby -4/4/05

Screech-Owl Parent just before Flyout-4/4/05 -- Photo by LINCOLN KARIM

Report from the Hawk Bench


Field Notes Monday, 4/04/2005

Sunset 7:25PM,
Temp. 51F,
Wind variable, 5-18MPH,
Prey Tally: Starling, Pigeon

AM Report, Lola flew from the nest, leaving it
unattended until Pale Male could hot wing it in from
the west, approx. 1 to 2 minutes.
2:45PM Stella reports Pale Male brought Lola a
Starling. Also, that once again the wind got under
Lola from behind and nearly flipped her over.
4:35PM Pale Male perched Linda 6. Lola submerged in
4:44PM Pale Male up, circles and touches wall of
building with wing tip (Something he frequently does.
Fun?), circles 927, circles Woody, circles over other
Fifth Ave. buildings.
4:47PM Pale Male perches on railing of Stove Pipe.
4:55PM Lola not visible in nest.
5:06PM Lola up, turns eggs, preens, situates head to
wind, settles back in.
5:15PM Lola alert, looking between twigs to the west.
5:30PM Lola head up, very alert to west.
5:42PM Pale Male appears with portion of pigeon in
talons, double passes nest, lands, puts down pigeon,
Lola takes it up and flies N out of sight. Pale Male
settles on nest.
5:45PM Exit.
(Pool Screech Owl family flyout-7:40PM)

Submitted: Donna Browne

Pale Male just after nest exchange -4/4/05--Photo:Lincoln Karim

Blakeman on Redtails in the Rain --Q & A


Please see Blakeman Blog for this interesting exchange of information and misinformation

Monday, April 04, 2005

Field Notes from the Hawk Bench

Field Notes 4/03/2005

Sunset 7:24PM,
Temp. 52F,
Clouds and Rain,
Wind WNW 9MPH,
Gusts 19PMH,
Prey Tally-None Seen

4:10PM Pale Male sighted in tree W bank of Lake,
switched trees, then flew over feeding area.
4:50PM Lola deep in nest.
5:04PM Lola head up looks N then W.
5:07PM Lola shifts in nest, head south, looking west.
5:23PM Lola up, flies off nest N along 5th, then past
Oreo. Nest without hawk.
5:24PM Pale Male appears with speed from W and lands
on nest.
5:25PM Pale Male down then up, adjusts position, tail
to bench (W).
5:28PM Pale Male resituates, head to N, alert.
5:30PM Mallard count-11.
5:47PM Nest exchange. Lola in, Pale Male out N.
5:50PM Lola watches W.
6:15PM Exit.

Submitted-Donna Browne

Screech-Owl Mystery: Two More Experts Respond

Photo by LINCOLN KARIM - 3/31/05
Adult Eastern Screech-Owl
taken just before Fly-out

First an UPDATE on 4/4/05.

As of yesterday the owl family was still in the same North Woods area they have been at for the last two weeks. [Why so vague about the location? Birders' Etiquette requires that nobody post locations of owls since they are vulnerable at their daytime roosts. If you are a birder or simply a bird lover and want to find these owls, find any other birder in the park. Binoculars are the clue! You will be directed to the owls.] There at the flyout were: Donna Brown, Kelley Harrison and myself. The owls were in a new spot, an evergreen, where they were harder to see, and we positively saw only the three kids and one parent. The likelihood is that the other adult was in a nearby tree. The flyout was at about 7:35 DST.

After flyout we followed the owls' sounds and relocated them in the woods to the northwest of their daytime roost. The three owlets were chittering on a low branch and the parents were in attendence. How did we see them in the dark? Kelley Harrison has remarkable eyesight. She easily located them as they moved from branch to branch.

It was a bit creepy up there. The territory was unfamiliar for the three of us. Without a larger group, or the presence of a few larger people, say someone over the height of 5'4" -- our maximum-- we prudently, though reluctantly, decided not to follow the little owls when they flew deeper into the woods toward the Blockhouse area. To tell the truth, I don't venture into that area happily in broad daylight. The quantity of crack vials that litter the ground there tell a story.


Eric Salzman writes in response to my query --[see below]:
Marie, . . . It's gotta be the earliest New York nesting by, not just weeks, but months! I'm going to make an educated guess that Screech Owls, although usually considered to be non-migratory, in fact usually move around in cold weather and have to reoccupy their territories every year. Perhaps the introduced owls had nowhere to go and hung around, finding enough food even in cold weather to keep them in or get them back into breeding condition unusually early. It's still quite remarkable. Eric


I found a reference to "early nesting" of E. Screech Owl in Minnesota on the Minnesota Ornithologist's Union site, apparently in their publication "The Loon", Vol. 67, 182 - but it seems they don't have the actual article or notation available online, nor the "early" date. As you say, many references give late March as an early nesting, ie egg-laying, period. Have you looked in the BNA account?

From Starr Saphir -- 4/3/05
. . . As these adults are introduced, they may have screwed-up clocks. I'm sure you know that , in introduced birds, an established breeding population (considerably more than one pair) must be present for at LEAST 10 years, and those first 10 generations can never be counted. Lenore said that one or more birds are still findable in the trees near the Pool at 103rd St. and CPW Cheers! Starr

An important postscript: There was one previous Screech owl pair that successfully bred in Central Park. That was a few years ago, maybe in 2002. [I'll check]. Again, I don't yet have the exact data, but many remember that then too the fledglings showed up preternaturally early.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

4/3/05-- Is Everybody OK After Yesterday's Rain- and Windstorm

4/3/05 --Marilyn Fifer writes:

Dear Marie:

During yesterday's torrential rain storm (according to weather service reports, with gusts up to 50mph) all I was thinking about was poor little Lola sitting on her nest, hanging on for dear life.

I hope that she and her nest occupants were able to ride out the storm without incident.

Please let us know how she fared.

Best regards,
Marilyn Fifer


You sound just like we did in 1993, 1994, and 1995, when the hawk nest was new. It brings it all back. We were nervous wrecks, as I tried to describe in Redtails in Love.

Not to worry about a little windstorm, or blizzard or howling rainstorm. The hawks are fine!! They're carrying on today in their usual manner--taking turns sitting on eggs, hunting, soaring. As John Blakeman has written in the past, these are experienced hawks. They know just what to do in any circumstance.

Cheers, Marie

The Answers to the Screech Mystery are Coming In

From Starr Saphir -- 3/3/05

. . . As these adults are introduced, they may have screwed-up clocks. I'm sure you know that , in introduced birds, an established breeding population (considerably more than one pair) must be present for at LEAST 10 years, and those first 10 generations can never be counted. Lenore said that one or more birds are still findable in the trees near the Pool at 103rd St. and CPW

Cheers! Starr

North Woods Screech-owl Mystery

The other day I realized that there was something extremely odd about the arrival date of the little screech owl family I've been posting pictures of on this website. I sent off the following letter to four bird experts I know well enough to have their e-mail address: Tom Fiore, Starr Saphir, Eric Salzman, and Steve Quinn of the AMNH [Natural History museum]:

Something suddenly struck me about the North Woods Screech-owls. I wonder if any of you you have any ideas.

The first report of the screech owls was on March 19, when Pat Pollock reported seeing 2 adult and 3 fledged screech owls. There is no question that these birds had fledged. They were seen flying out that night, and many times thereafter. Pat reported them to ebirds as being about two months old, although she didn't say how she assessed their age.

But even if they had fledged the day before they were first sighted, , isn't this extremely early for fledged screech owls? I looked it up in the old Bull's Birds of New York State and the earliest HATCH record was in late March -- March 23 or 27 --[I don't have the book right here.] So that would mean fledglings at the earliest in late April! Isn't this very odd?

Furthermore, here's a snippet from a reliable website:

" Chick development of Eastern Screech Owl

The female incubates the eggs for 26 - 28 days. The male will feed the incubating female, who is a close sitter and will not venture far from the nest when taking a break. The chicks are semi-altricial at hatching. Both parents care for the young. Early on, the male will deliver food to the female who tears it into smaller pieces to feed to the chicks. The chicks fledge after about 27 days in the nest, but remain dependent on the parents for 8 - 10 more weeks. "

SO---26 +27 = 53 days. That means that the birds seen on March 19 had come from eggs laid no later than on JANUARY 25!! [Or is my math wrong?] Even Great Horned Owls don't nest that early, and they are known to be the earliest nesters among the owls.

Let's see what they answer!