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Being the object of scrutiny, university owls say "Whom?"
April 2, 2008 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Owl Cam. Physics professor sees Great Horned Owl nesting outside window & sets up webcam.

They are often very still, but every so often the babies will try out their wings and hop around. The adults are very large--bigger than a fat cat.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium (116 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is terrific! They're gorgeous.
posted by LeeJay at 11:16 AM on April 2, 2008


Man, I love seeing hooters on a webcam.
posted by Someone has just shot your horse! at 11:17 AM on April 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Is it just me, or is the mother not there right now? Maybe hunting down the guy who installed this invasion of privacy.
posted by kingbenny at 11:17 AM on April 2, 2008


I was just watching it and the left-hand baby started doing that crazy owl head-dance.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 11:19 AM on April 2, 2008


Yes, interesting head movements. I think they do that to triangulate sounds or vision.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:21 AM on April 2, 2008


At first glance, I thought I was looking at two adult owls, with the left one doing the above mentioned 'head dance' which I figured was some sort of mating thing and they were about to get it on! Now realize that these are the babies...so I ask...did I just contribute the the rampant kiddie owl porn problem?
posted by Shfishp at 11:24 AM on April 2, 2008


Cool!
posted by carter at 11:28 AM on April 2, 2008


They're fat and lovely.

Thanks -- as with all cool online bird stuff, this will make my parents quite happy!
posted by notmydesk at 11:32 AM on April 2, 2008


That's pretty awesome. Are they babies, or are we seeing two adults with the third missing? Also, why do three owls nest together?
posted by arnicae at 11:32 AM on April 2, 2008


You're seeing two babies. Mom is away right now. There are lots of these owls where I live (about 100 miles away from this cam), and the crows, magpies, robins, and Stellar's Jays make a great, noisy fuss--dive bombing and sneaking up behind to nip at the tail feathers. The owls endure this with great patience, sometimes swiveling their head to glare, sometimes lifting a talon.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:35 AM on April 2, 2008


GHOW nestlings are ridiculously cute.

Barn owl live nest cam.
Peregrine falcon, in San Jose CA.
Bald eagle, in CO.
Osprey nest, in Scotland.

Watching nest cams can be either a Zen thing or really boring, depending on what the birds are doing, and your frame of mind. Watching live footage of a peregrine sitting on a nest is not very exciting. But when the mate comes in with a snack (a nice pigeon, say), that's pretty cool. And so is watching the baby birds once they're up and walking around - when they start to learn to fly, it gets even better, at least for the larger raptors. There's a lot of hopping and flapping. and it's hilarious to see.

Thanks, w-gp! Great find.

on preview, for arnicae - there are two nestlings (they're fuzzy), and at least one adult. The second adult is likely off hunting; both adults may be absent from the nest for short periods once the nestlings are older.
posted by rtha at 11:37 AM on April 2, 2008 [9 favorites]


w(h)00t!
posted by The Bellman at 11:39 AM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Stellar's Steller's Jay
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:39 AM on April 2, 2008


Doesn't work for me. It says connecting and then nothing, just a white screen.
posted by Memo at 11:42 AM on April 2, 2008


Must be your settings, Memo. Working fine here.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:44 AM on April 2, 2008


that's a $2000 webcam, USED.
posted by shmegegge at 11:45 AM on April 2, 2008


The owl's just really close.
posted by cashman at 11:46 AM on April 2, 2008


Now this is a great use for a webcam! Those are some BIG babies!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:48 AM on April 2, 2008


Previous (including more sights and sounds) owl post on MeFi.
posted by OmieWise at 11:50 AM on April 2, 2008


I had no idea owl babies could be so huge. I'm watching just to see if I can see the mom come home and have a size comparison. Sheesh, just ridiculous. However, they are quite pretty and cute when preening.
posted by lizarrd at 11:53 AM on April 2, 2008


Awesome! Thanks, WgP! Also to RTHA for those others. There goes my lunch hour(s)....
posted by paddysat at 11:56 AM on April 2, 2008


This is awesome.
posted by dan g. at 12:01 PM on April 2, 2008


The owls are not as they seem.
posted by anazgnos at 12:05 PM on April 2, 2008


O RLY?
posted by uaudio at 12:08 PM on April 2, 2008


In the last couple of years the local CBC has been streaming video of a pair of peregrines who for nearly two decades(!) have nested atop downtown Winnipeg's Radisson Hotel, resulting in some great images. Although the cam is currently out of commision, the falcons have recently been seen in the area, so hopefully they'll be doing it again.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:14 PM on April 2, 2008


great...thanks..

We had a great horned owl once (sister was a biology teacher, it came to her as a baby by some misguided person that found it on the ground and decided it was abandoned)...great bird!!!! lived in a box in the living room next to the couch when it was little, got so it would hop up on the side of the box. It would sit for hours watching TV with us.... a very loving bird, she eventually used it for science demonstrations in the elementary schools....
posted by HuronBob at 12:19 PM on April 2, 2008


I so jealous of his access. Over the past year or so, I've gotten into bird photography pretty heavily, and I would love to be able to get some shots from his window.

Come to think of it, I'm damn jealous of his video camera as well.
posted by quin at 12:26 PM on April 2, 2008


bubo virginianus
lol
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:43 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those little guys have some funky moves.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:45 PM on April 2, 2008


I looked at it for about 30 seconds, thinking it might have been one of those slide-show style feeds, and wondering if it will ever update, and then one of the youngsters moves.

Best mefi all week.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:47 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


How frequently does Mom stop by, and for how long?
posted by Anything at 12:55 PM on April 2, 2008


Heh, at the moment the two of them look like they're doing a phony mug shot - one facing directly forward, one turned ninety degrees.

I wish someone would let us all know when the momma owl comes back . . .
posted by yhbc at 12:55 PM on April 2, 2008


I figure Mom must be catnapping in the tree above, otherwise these guys would have magpies and crows all over them. Hunting starts at dusk, when the mice come out.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:57 PM on April 2, 2008


Everyone knows about the Maine bald eagle cam, right?
posted by scrump at 1:01 PM on April 2, 2008


Awesome! Thanks for the link.
posted by dov3 at 1:01 PM on April 2, 2008


I hope the feed goes into night vision, then. :)
posted by Anything at 1:03 PM on April 2, 2008


Someone is standing in the way now. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 1:15 PM on April 2, 2008


Some professor dude keeps blocking the view.
posted by DanielDManiel at 1:15 PM on April 2, 2008


Yay, he centered the cam.
posted by notquitemaryann at 1:17 PM on April 2, 2008


I guess Mr. Blockin' m'View heard me yelling "Down in front!" He seems to have gone.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 1:17 PM on April 2, 2008


Maybe that was a cleaner. I think I saw a broom handle.

The one on the right just stretched its wings a bit.
posted by Anything at 1:20 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


They just sit there. Doing nothing. Unmoving. All the time.

Like me!
posted by Justinian at 1:29 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


We put up a screech owl box in our yard once, and almost immediately attracted a male. He hung around for weeks, but ended up either moving on or nesting elsewhere.

We were really stoked with our success and started counting down until next spring. Then we moved, and there are no trees large enough near us now to accommodate another owl house. Sad. I miss our brown little friend.
posted by jquinby at 1:29 PM on April 2, 2008


Is there some new rule about university logo design that I'm not aware of? The TRU shield looks suspiciously similar to the new(ish) shield logo of my alma mater.
posted by djeo at 1:31 PM on April 2, 2008


I don't get why the owl mother standing "on guard" is "like a true Canadian"

what is this supposed to mean?

I'm not against anthropomorphising, but just don't understand why Canadian-ness is marked by standing on guard. Am I missing something?
posted by subatomiczoo at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2008


Evanston, Illinois Public Library Falcon-Cam
posted by mctsonic at 1:38 PM on April 2, 2008


They just sit there. Doing nothing. Unmoving. All the time.

I sit corrected. The owls just started doing a wacky bobblehead OH NO YOU DI'NT! head dance. Kind of, uh, creepy actually.
posted by Justinian at 1:39 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Remember, the owl stares into you.
posted by jquinby at 1:41 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hee. The chick on the left is moving its head in time with "Alabama Chicken" playing on my computer.

On preview-- Justinian: COINCIDENCE?! I think not.
posted by Tehanu at 1:41 PM on April 2, 2008


Uh. Did it get all orange for anyone else?
posted by Tehanu at 1:43 PM on April 2, 2008


Orange and then blue, and then orange again.

Still a great link.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:45 PM on April 2, 2008


This is totally awesome. This is so much better than watching traffic out the window when pondering or stretching. And thanks to rtha as well!
posted by salvia at 1:46 PM on April 2, 2008


Yeah, it/they're adjusting the color balance or something... zoomed nicely for us, too.
posted by notquitemaryann at 1:48 PM on April 2, 2008


I don't get why the owl mother standing "on guard" is "like a true Canadian"

Check the lyrics to the anthem.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 1:50 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some more info.
Their eyes are fixed in their sockets, so they must move their heads (extra vertebrae allow up to 270 degrees) to observe. Their faces are built like a parabolic dish, with asymmetrical ears to give them better triangulation on prey. They apparently eat other owls, young osprey, falcons, and crows, as well as rodents. Yet last year I saw a covey of quail walk directly below a large adult Horned Owl, who seemed uninterested. The quail never knew he was there. The adult female is larger than male, with a wingspan up to five feet, and specialized feathers that allow them to fly without a sound. If you ever have the privilege of seeing one flying up close, you'll realize how awesomely huge and stealthy they are.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:51 PM on April 2, 2008


I don't get why the owl mother standing "on guard" is "like a true Canadian"

what is this supposed to mean?


"O Canada, we stand on guard for thee"
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:52 PM on April 2, 2008


owl baby 1: god damn. this can't be all there is to being an owl.

owl baby 2: quit moving, dude. you'll knock us off this branch and then we'll fall up and never come back, like mom.

owl baby 1: what about the funky head movements?

owl baby 2: those are fine.

owl baby 1: thank god for that.
posted by shmegegge at 1:55 PM on April 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


There were two. I went to the thread, now there's one and he is looking down. Did someone fall? What am I missing?
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 2:03 PM on April 2, 2008


Oh. Stupid camouflage. This was easier with pandas.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 2:04 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyone else have this bizzare desire for the mouse pointer to be able to poke the owls.

I so wanna nudge them!
posted by ozomatli at 2:14 PM on April 2, 2008


Maybe Mark could set up a simulation for that, ozomatli.

Mark Paetkau, Instructor/Simulation Artificer, TRU/Wise Software

Computer simulations are an important tool in science. To what extent they are useful as tools for teaching concepts remains an open debate. However, animations/simulations can allow students to visualize a procedure; that is; simulations can teach students HOW to do something. This idea has been applied to introductory physics labs and animations have been created that allow students to simulate the lab procedure before coming to the lab. In conjunction with a WebCT online quiz, the students arrive at the lab having read the manual and understanding the procedure for the measurements they will be making.


I couldn't find Mark's email on the TRU site. Somebody should tell him to get a mic outside. At dusk Horned Owls make that deep WHO Who WHOoo-WHO WHOOo sound, as well as a loud screaming squawk. Seems to be territorial, to space out hunting grounds. Mic would pick up the crows, magpies, and robins, also.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:17 PM on April 2, 2008


Peregrine falcon cam, from the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 2:23 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Awww, they're snuggled up against each other! I don't know how much longer I can hold back the baby talk. Maybe I should log out until the urge passes. Otherwise I'm liable to let loose with a bunch of "ickums" and "shmoopies."
posted by LeeJay at 2:38 PM on April 2, 2008


Well, a minute or so ago they preened themselves. That made me baby talk, believe you me. In case you were wondering, "ah yes, a very fine and healthy pair of owl chicks" apparently translates into "ååå aaa titta pårom små ugglebugglebäbisarna" in swedish...
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:46 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have named one of them butterstick.
posted by found missing at 2:47 PM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Everyone knows about the Maine bald eagle cam, right?

Previous FPP on Maine's BioDiversity Research Institute's eagle-cam
posted by ericb at 2:49 PM on April 2, 2008


"I couldn't find Mark's email on the TRU site."

mpaetkau@tru.ca
posted by Jacqueline at 2:50 PM on April 2, 2008


ugglebugglebäbisarna

That's the exact sound I made. And I don't even know Swedish!
posted by LeeJay at 2:53 PM on April 2, 2008


Thanks. Found it simultaneously; just emailed him.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:55 PM on April 2, 2008


he zoomed out :(
posted by Jacqueline at 3:10 PM on April 2, 2008


I was REALLY bored, so I flipped to another tab and thought about posting something sarcastic about how the owls, they do nothing. A moment later, I flipped back to the tab with the video feed and found myself entranced. The owls, they do something to me, and I think I like it.

They also have owls in Japan.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 3:14 PM on April 2, 2008


I know! They need to zoom back in.

For a few seconds they were both looking straight down. Right now, right baby has hunkered down and left baby did a good wing stretch. I can't really see the nest, it looks like they're hanging out on a branch.
posted by deborah at 3:17 PM on April 2, 2008


I've been checking these guys out all day ... One of them is resting now?
posted by carter at 3:19 PM on April 2, 2008


Heh - I just emailed a colleague with this, and she sent me an owl cam from where she works ...

http://www.ral.ucar.edu/general/press/webcam/owlcam/

Got a good owl scowl going on there right now ...
posted by carter at 3:25 PM on April 2, 2008


Has anyone seen a parent yet? I was hoping I'd get to see the parents bring prey back to the nest.
posted by Tehanu at 3:40 PM on April 2, 2008


Oh right, duh. British Columbia + daylight saving --> nowhere near dusk.
posted by Tehanu at 3:45 PM on April 2, 2008


Gah, I just saw his reflection in the window (i guess it is in his office setup on a tripod).
posted by mrzarquon at 4:02 PM on April 2, 2008


I don't get why the owl mother standing "on guard" is "like a true Canadian"

As already stated by drjimmy11, a reference to the Canadian national anthem...but perhaps also to this site?
posted by homelystar at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2008


Ha! At my old place i built a pigeon-cam because the building was pretty much infested with those guys.

I tuned in at 630 CST and the owls were pretty animated. Really incredible stuff. Its like viewing some secret world that no longer exists. Ive been to a lot of zoos but I dont think I've ever seen them bob their heads like this.

As impressive as this is it still pales somewhat compared to the belugacam. Theyre pretty incredible and look like some odd alien species at night.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:37 PM on April 2, 2008


would be nice if the person didn't stand in front of the camera...
posted by pantufla at 4:50 PM on April 2, 2008


Beautiful. They're bobbing their heads a lot now.
posted by fire&wings at 5:07 PM on April 2, 2008


As soon as the sun set they started hopping from branch to branch. Cute!
posted by brassafrax at 5:07 PM on April 2, 2008


*started* to set
posted by brassafrax at 5:10 PM on April 2, 2008


Woah, one just flew off. I've been watching them do their impersonations of fluffy fire hydrants all afternoon so seeing one spread his wings and casually exit stage left was quite a surprise.
posted by jamaro at 5:18 PM on April 2, 2008


Great stuff. Two of the owls are out on the branches right now, practicing spreading those wings and hop/flying from branch to branch. Between showing off the dance moves (damn, now there's a backing track of "Rock With You" stuck in my head...) one owl kept nibbling on the talon of the other owl...and now there is only one visible!

I wonder if there are people standing around the webcam; it seems as though the owls are keeping their eyes on that window....
posted by squasha at 5:19 PM on April 2, 2008


And they're both gone!

Shows over folks...nuthin to see here....
posted by squasha at 5:23 PM on April 2, 2008


This is very, very neat. At first they looked like bobble head dolls, then they'd flap their wings and hop.
posted by dws at 5:25 PM on April 2, 2008


Now that they are gone, I feel so empty. I had a little perfectly sized window of owl cam in the corner of my screen for hours.

They'll be back tomorrow, right? RIGHT?
posted by mayfly wake at 6:27 PM on April 2, 2008


I hope so. I love them.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:24 PM on April 2, 2008


Until they return, enjoy this more detailed shot of the buddies. And another.
posted by JBennett at 7:27 PM on April 2, 2008


I've had a GHO (this one) skim over the top of my head. It was a bit like being brushed by an enormous cotton ball, but with small knives attached.
posted by scruss at 9:24 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now it works and what do I see? A street light.
posted by Memo at 5:28 AM on April 3, 2008


Looks like dawn is breaking now.
posted by carter at 6:19 AM on April 3, 2008


No owls :(
posted by carter at 6:49 AM on April 3, 2008


Hopefully, they're just on break and will be back shortly. :|
posted by wsg at 7:39 AM on April 3, 2008


I'm pretty sure birds don't return to the nest once they've fledged... (sigh) :(

I really enjoyed watching these two yesterday afternoon, and am sorry I missed them fly away. I wonder if the videographer happened to be recording any of it. It'd be neat to see some video highlights of the baby owls' lives.
posted by kira at 7:46 AM on April 3, 2008


So long, little bobbleheads. Good hunting. That's pretty damn neat that people here got to see them fledge.
posted by Tehanu at 8:04 AM on April 3, 2008


Thank god those things are gone. Now I can get the work done that I was supposed to have finished yesterday.

*sniff* I miss you guys. *sniff* (switches over to OTHER owl cam...)
posted by paddysat at 8:25 AM on April 3, 2008


Oooh! Looks like one is back! Buh-bye productivity!
posted by paddysat at 10:03 AM on April 3, 2008


They zoomed in, too. Awesome.
posted by notmydesk at 10:15 AM on April 3, 2008


Oooh! Looks like one is back!

The overwhelming sense of relief I felt when this wild bird returned to the video feed made me realize I'm going to be a complete and utter mental case when my son gets his driver's license.

5 years 51 weeks to madness.
posted by jamaro at 11:14 AM on April 3, 2008


This is so awesome! Haven't seen the babies yet, but I'll keep watching :)
posted by geeky at 11:41 AM on April 3, 2008


Geeky, that is one of the Babies! Big Baby! Someone should start a petition to have the FOX news network replaced with OWLCAM.
posted by JBennett at 11:43 AM on April 3, 2008


Someone should start a petition to have the FOX news network replaced with OWLCAM.

Please add my name to the petition.
posted by rtha at 12:01 PM on April 3, 2008


Why is there only one owl? Did he eat the other owl to absorb his power?
posted by Justinian at 12:31 PM on April 3, 2008


I think at this age they are big enough to explore the tree around their nest and that's why they weren't there this morning. The other owl prolly clambered out of the nest and is on a nearby limb.

When I saw them yesterday they looked pretty fuzzy still and not mature enough to fly, not that I'm any kind of ornithologist. That's why I was surprised and doubtful that they'd flown away since yesterday. Very happy to get to see them a bit more.
posted by wsg at 3:24 PM on April 3, 2008


These guys were on my roof a couple of years ago. They were a couple of months older than the pair we're looking at here. The adults are twice the size, with large ear tufts.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:04 PM on April 3, 2008


Nighttime blows. I can't see the owls.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 AM on April 4, 2008


But they can see you.

(OvO)
posted by jamaro at 12:24 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Feed isn't live now. Not supposed to be dark there.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:55 AM on April 4, 2008


No owls :(
posted by Justinian at 9:36 AM on April 4, 2008


If you are missing the bebbe owls: The peregrine falcons in San Jose hatched today! This will dramatically up the parent birds' activity as they will be coming and going retrieving food (mmmpigeons) for the hatchlings rather than engaging in all day sitting marathons. Two of the eggs have hatched as of early this morning, there are at least two eggs left.

Woo, parent bird just readjusted himself (the mamma bird is much larger than the daddy bird) and the babies look like animated cotton balls. With razor sharp beaks.
posted by jamaro at 8:54 AM on April 22, 2008


New birdies!
posted by Tehanu at 9:37 AM on April 22, 2008


Frida and Diego, two barn owls, have three fresh owlets (April 16, 18, and 21, I think) and four eggs still incubating. Infrared at night makes this a 24 hour obsession. Frida sings happy owly chirpy songs to the owlets during Super Cute Gory Vole Bits Feeding Time.
20 second refresh and click photo for embiggenation
Live feed

More barn owls -- there are five flappy squeakers in a box in Texas who are a couple of weeks older, and capable of necking down a whole vole when Mom brings one around. Infrared too.
Live feed

I would link the the Washington state Wildwatch barn owls, but sadly, their owlets all died. I happened to be watching when the last baby died, and it made me very sad.

Many more nest cameras for various species of nestbuilders here, as well as obsessive commentary and awesome screenshots from each camera.
posted by Sallyfur at 9:32 AM on April 23, 2008


I don't see what's so great about them. (kidding)
posted by Pollomacho at 9:41 AM on April 23, 2008


Pollomacho, those are baby dinosaurs. A little respect.
posted by Tehanu at 4:10 PM on April 24, 2008


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