Saturday, January 19, 2008

Owls in love

Photos by ARDITH BONDI -- January 10, 2008

The top one, fast asleep, is the male; the bottom one is the female, and they are definitely an item. Central Park birdwatchers have had several opportunities to watch these two consummating, as they say, on various branches near their West Side roost tree. They live in separate cavities in the same tree, and on at least two occasions he has been seen on her doorstep with a love offering: first a sparrow and then a mouse. This sounds like she is already sitting on eggs down in her domicile.

The owls' tree couldn't be in a more conspicuous location, right near a path. Everybody going by the tree last night while I was waiting for the fly-out -- dog-walkers, park workers, strollers, cyclers etc.-- knew about the owls. "How are they doing?" people asked the small group of us gathered there. And I saw others passing by who were pointing out the tree to their walking companions. Neighborhood celebrities. lLke Pale Male, I guess.

I'm not allowed to give any hints about where the tree is located -- the owl police is very strict--and rightfully so. Owls are vulnerable in the daytime. And though these two are roosting considerably out of human reach, I can imagine that ingenious bad-guys [or gals] could get at them. So if you long to see them, ask any Central Park birdwatcher.

By the way, fly-out last night was 5:40. That's quite late. The other known pair, the ones that live in the northern part of the park, flew out last night at 5:14. Marianne Girards was there and sent me a report.