Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Death of an Owl

And then there were two.

It was a sad morning when Jops was awoken by the visit of a security guard to their home. He was carrying the remains of a dead juvenile Philippine Scops-Owl. The guard found the owl along the road, meters away from where the family of owls roost and hunt.

So sad seeing this lifeless young owl...

Already emptied of its internal parts and eyes, you can still see the
beautiful feathers, sharp beak, and deadly talons.

The owl family of five (two adults and three juveniles) was first spotted by Jops last February 26 and has since been observed in the same area. We were able to find their day roost and have been seeing all three chicks regularly, usually with only one adult, perched high up in the trees.

Recently though, we've only been seeing two chicks roosting with an adult. We just assumed that the other chick was roosting unseen nearby with the other parent. That was until the guard found the dead owlet. We couldn't really tell the cause of death in the state of the owl's body but there were no obvious external injuries that we could see.

One adult and two juvenile owls in this recent photo taken a few days ago

Last year, we also saw a family of Philippine Scops-Owls with two chicks. I've read that these owls usually lay 1-2 eggs (although one journal article said 4-5 eggs!) so maybe two is really the average number of chicks for these owls.

We spent some time discussing the possible scenarios: could it be the third owlet? Or could it be from a different owl family? Was this the owl that fell to the ground a few weeks ago? Was it the "runt of litter"? What did it die of? Was it driven away by its much stronger and dominant siblings?

We have so many questions worthy of wildlife CSI! We just put our hope in the two remaining juvenile owls to survive until adulthood and continue to breed and live in the middle of a bustling city.

Hopefully, the two remaining chicks will grow into
adulthood like their parent.

2 comments:

  1. Sad news Maia :-( I was really surprised when this family had three young, I would expect them to only be able to raise one or two. Most likely is was the weakest of the three juveniles and lost out to competition to the other two, I'm sure in most circumstances the adults can only find enough food to support one or two juveniles. We should be glad at least that the other two are fit and strong :-)

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    1. Survival of the fittest in one of its brutal forms...but yes, we should be glad that the other two look to be very healthy =) Thanks Rob! =)

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