An Owl Essay by Linda Stryker, PhD

October 26, 2013

The World-Famous Owls of San Marcos

Linda Stryker, PhD

In February 2010, a pair of barn owls came upon a very nice owl box on a fifteen-foot pole in San Marcos, California. The box was spacious, near numerous trees, and close to fields that contained an abundance of rodent dinners for the owls’ nighttimes under the stars.  The owners of the owl home were Carlos and Donna Royal, who had waited two years for tenants to find their owl box.  Cameras were already in place in the box’s wall and wires ran down the pole to the Royal’s dining room, soon to be known as Command Central.  They shared the unfolding drama of owl goings-on with relatives, and, seeing how well that was received, Carlos decided to put the private lives of barn owls on Ustream, a web-based live-video site.  Thereafter ensued a series of astonishing events that unfolded over the next eight months.

At first, only a handful of people watched, then more, then many more.  After a few months, almost twenty million hits had been recorded; this represented about fifteen million households.  The owls, now named Molly and McGee, became the most watched program ever on Ustream.  A concurrent Social Stream and a Chat Room were well moderated, to expel troublesome trolls and robotic messages.  These social areas followed simple rules: no ages/religion/politics, no final game scores, keep it G-rated, and be nice to each other.

Teachers showed the owl video streams in their classrooms, and occasionally, they would receive a live-stream visit (similar to Skype) from Carlos, who could answer the children’s questions.  Newspapers in San Diego, and even the New York Times, ran stories; television studios came calling.  Carlos and the Owl Box were featured on NBC Nightly News, the Today Show, Fox and Friends, and CBS Early News. This was truly an extraordinary experience for millions of people all around the world.

Molly McGee

Molly and McGee

Soon, the spectacle snowballed into another amazing sociological wonderland.

After the one-pound owls had settled into their new home, Molly laid six eggs and McGee dutifully provided mice, gophers, and rats as ‘treats’ for Molly.  One egg disappeared.  Four eggs hatched and soon toddler owlets were growing.  The last egg went past its hatching date and watchers mourned over the lost potential, naming it Dudley.

During the next few months, viewers witnessed the wonders of nature.  Molly was an ideal mother.  She touched the owlets, cleaned them, tore off meat shreds to feed each one, protected them, and nurtured them to their fledging time and beyond by assisting McGee when the life-long mates eventually taught the owlets to hunt on their own.  Viewers saw the growth of the owlets from naked, strange-looking little beasts to fluffy youngsters, to dapper teenagers, and to handsome young adults.  Watchers said, “simply wonderful, warm, and charming,” “a unique reality show of pure owl life.”

A second camera recorded the night view outside the owl box so all could watch the delivery of treats.  Some people opened two browsers so they could watch inside and outside the box at the same time.

Then, the most amazing things emerged from the viewers, the Royals, and other talented people.  Cartoons appeared, drawn by John Atkinson, a well-known artist in the film industry.  The World’s Most Famous Barn Owls, a children’s book about Molly and McGee, was written by noted author Eric Blehm, with illustrations by designer Chris Adams.  Subscriptions sprang up for these items and for an enormous e-cookbook compiled from recipes submitted by viewers.  Video-plays starring owl puppets appeared on YouTube. Teacher/singer/composer Barbara Allen wrote songs about Molly and McGee and their first clutch of owlets: Max, Pattison, Austin and Wesley.

From their coloring, it was deduced that three were female, Austin the male.  Allen taught her class of fourth-grade students “The Molly Song”, which they recorded and sent to Carlos.  Viewers sang their hearts out whenever Carlos played the music on air.  “[Molly] brought the world together, with modern technology.”  Viewers bought an hour-long DVD of selected images and videos of events in the lives of the owls, narrated by Carlos and compiled by Austin Faure, the Royal’s teenage grandson.

Molly With Eggs

Molly With Eggs

Carlos’s professional pictures with news updates about the number of treats delivered, checkpoints of owl maturation, and owl informational links, were, and still are, available on his blog [http://mollysbox.wordpress.com/blog/].  One day, Carlos used Skype and a few watchers appeared on the stream––live––before tens of thousands of viewers.  Your author was the first to appear.

Whenever Carlos appeared on screen, viewers commented about how they felt peaceful and reassured; most posted their gratefulness that the Royals provided them this opportunity to participate in the owls’ lives.  Carlos and Donna established a Café Press store where viewers could order cups and tee shirts.  Soon the enterprise ballooned into almost anything one could think of that could be produced with pictures of owls on it.  Totes, infant wear, framed prints, calendars, even men’s underwear––you name it.  Author Blehm started an online business to sell books, jewelry, hand puppets and owl-box kits.  Viewers asked for owl images on more things, and so the shoppers’ list grew to huge proportions.

The most amazing thing was to be found among the viewers themselves.  The audience used the social areas of the stream to bond together as a substitute family––one that happened to include owls.  Worries about the welfare of the owlets were voiced from time to time––as when Molly first left the owlets unattended for twenty-four hours––before viewers understood owl nature.  Viewers cried to Carlos, “Please buy some mice and throw them up into the box.”  No need; Molly began leaving for longer periods when she knew the youngest owlet was able to swallow a mouse by itself.

Names became associated with items, such as the pole, the rabbit scurrying about underneath the box in the afternoon (Tauntz), owl elimination (Squirtz), and the ‘rug’ in the box, formed from regurgitated fur and bone (Gag Shag).  In fact, an entire group language of terms and abbreviations grew up in the Chat and Social Rooms.  An Owl Box Lexicon appeared.  One special viewer early on had been spontaneously designated “Princess Mascot of the Chat Room.”  One viewer wrote and posted dozens of limericks; other poets and haikuists emerged.  Carlos’s rallying cry for the millions of owl watchers was “Gee, isn’t this fun?  And we are part of it!”

Over the eight months, chatters talked about food and movies, played guessing games during quiet times while waiting for ‘owl events’ such as horking, also called casting, when an owl upchucks a fur-and-bone pellet, an arrival of a parent, a feeding, a first-time excursion out of the box, or a first-time flight.  Watchers obtained bumper stickers that read, “Hork if you love Molly.”  Viewers advised each other about gardening, cooking and illnesses.  They comforted each other, shared grief when someone lost a family member or a beloved pet.  Grandbabies were born, spouses went to the hospital, and all in the viewer family were there to lend support.  Many said they were uplifted from depression or sadness or illness by caring about the owls, thus taking their thoughts away from their own problems.  This was their life.

Next, the owl lovers wanted to meet each other.  There was a gathering in San Marcos, the town where Molly and McGee lived.  Three hundred people attended.  They brought owl cookies, owl artwork, owl tee shirts, owl hats, owl cupcakes, and much more.  Faure put the get-together live on Ustream so the rest of the viewers could vicariously participate.  Other places in the United States followed suit, in cities such as Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Phoenix, Seattle, and in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts and other states.  Pictures of these events were shown on Ustream or on personal sites, the links of which were provided to all.

There was great sorrow and gnashing of teeth when the last owlet, little Wesley fledged and left the box.  By late June, all owls were gone.  Carlos and Donna came on and briefly said their good-byes.  Carlos pulled the plug.  The owl box stream was over and out.

Devastated chatters quickly devised a Yahoo website to continue talking; the artist, John Atkinson set up a Ustream site to keep the group running.  The Royals made ready to leave on their long overdue and much deserved vacation.

And then . . .

Molly and McGee returned.  Carlos and Donna decided to stay home and stream the new clutch as well.  Carlos improved his cameras and built a better porch for the box.  Watchers had the joy of witnessing four more eggs appear and hatch.  Two survived: Ashley and Carrie.  More products were produced at the urging of watchers.  More gatherings took place.  Because this clutch hatched in warmer weather, McGee brought fewer, but larger, treats; owlet growth and development happened at a faster rate than it had with the first set of owlets.  Carlos erected a misting device above the box to cool the surrounding air as it was thought that excessive summer heat might have contributed to the loss of the two littlest owlets in this clutch: Kelly and Jody.

Chatters have often wondered: whatever did they do before sitting hours in front of the Owl Box, watching this spectacle of nature?  Molly the Owl’s Ustream site, the Social Stream and Chat Room ceased broadcasting in October 2010, soon after Ashley and Carrie fledged and left the box for good.  The barn owl reality show ended; viewers had to go back to whatever it was they used to do.  But it wouldn’t be the same ol’, same ol.’

As one viewer put it: “We are forever changed.  We lived with owls.”

© Linda Stryker

“First published in Emeritus Voices Journal”

83 Responses to “An Owl Essay by Linda Stryker, PhD”

  1. monkie Says:

    Beautifully said, and brought tears to my eyes, as i was reading and remembering how much fun we had, and so glad i was a part of it.. thank you Linda, as Molly and McGee will always live in our hearts!!

  2. Ginny Says:

    We hope all of you are doing well. It is good to hear from you and think of our good times online together.

  3. Lisa Says:

    Wow, that was wonderful! You sure brought back some very happy and exciting times. Makes you want to be a part of all of it again! Thanks, Linda, for writing such a memorable and awesome event. Thank you too to Carlos and Donna for providing so much love and joy to the world!

  4. janie2 Says:

    The first clutch was magical and did change all of us. It was made so special because of Carlos. He is a born entertainer. Oh, the cyber parties we had. Other owl boxes have started broadcasting, but it’s not the same without the joy of seeing Carlos in his owl shirt talking to us each morning. Carlos, Donna, and Austin, you will remain in our hearts forever. Much love to all of you and the MODs.

  5. themauimom53 Says:

    Hard to believe it was so long ago, it seem like it was yesterday. Nice article! I miss Molly and McGee and I miss Carlos and Donna. Happy memories.

  6. Jones Beth Says:

    Pictures of Molly, McGee, Ashley and Carrie still grace my Florida room walls. Thank you for a wonderful experience.

  7. ElfOwl49 Says:

    While we were part of a truly sociological phenomenon, it was also very deeply personal event for many of the viewers. There will never be another McGee and Molly, but many of us have found other uStream sites with much of the same sense of community and family and can often be found there enthralled in the lives of the animals, but also supporting each other. Thank you Carlos for opening up this wonderful new world and thank you Linda Stryker for reminding us of a unique and well-loved memory.

  8. judy Says:

    This was a wonderful event in my life. I will be forever grateful to Carlos and Donna for making me a part of the owl family.

  9. Birdlovers4ever Says:

    What a lovely rememberance of things past! Your essay brought tears to my eyes, Linda. Thank you so much for taking us back to that magical time, if even just for a few moments… <3

  10. Ruth Schmitz Says:

    three years have passed? already? All still so fresh in my mind. Thankful for the experience. :)

  11. YTQ Says:

    You have summarized the experience quite well in a small amount of space. What a trip it has been! Even tho a few Owl Boxes are still active, NOTHING will ever replace Molly and McGee with Carlos at the helm, and Donna riding shotgun. But we do have our memories and knick-knacks; more importantly, we still have each other. We chat daily, (on a number of chats that sprang up in honor of the owls) still have MOD meets, still laugh and cry and love, or hate, the Molly Song. <3 Thank you for the nice reminder!
    If you want to be part of the post Molly Owl Box chat rooms, please contact anyone who posts here; most of them belong to several chat groups because of Molly.

  12. elsalichman@comcast.net Says:

    beautiful!!! e

  13. NancyS Says:

    Awwwwww, what a wonderful summerization of our life with Molly and McGee. I miss them so.


  14. This was just owlesome to read. Brought so many wonderful and precious memories back to mind. I watched Molly & McGee almost from day one from SPO. Carlos brought such joy into the lives of millions. That joy continues today. I also have pictures of Molly & McGee and their “children” on my walls. Thank you for writing this. Molly & McGee..their legacy continues.

  15. ClouPA Says:

    What a wonderful reminder of such a special time! I will always
    cherish the memories!


  16. OMG Linda!!! I am sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks remembering our adorable little owl families!!! Even my little chihuahua would sit on the computer table in front of the screen with me and would watch when she heard the “bonding”. None of the other owls I have watched have even come close to what we all had with Molly, McGee, Donna and Carlos and our whole cyber family. Thank you so much for the beautiful memories!!!! My chi didn’t like my singing when the Molly Song came on and would nibble my nose to make me stop. When she would hear the lead in music, she would look at me like she was saying”please don’t sing”. Loved and miss those times!!!!

  17. Fairygram Says:

    Events you recorded are spot-on and not only changed my life and knowledge of owls but my family was educated. In fact, I will always believe the “now” interest in owls is a direct link from Molly and McGee. Thank you for keeping the memories alive for all of us that were and are so-engaged!

  18. VSue Says:

    hOWL wonderful it was, and still and always will be. Although I am not nearly online as much as I used to be; I feel close to each and everyone one of you Chatterers, Lurkers and MODs and think of OWL often.

    I feel I am forever changed; for the better! New friends made from all over the world.

    Thank you again for the good OWL memories, and new ones to unfold with these notes, e-mails and letters.

  19. holly sue Says:

    Thank you, Linda, for the beautiful memories! The months with our Owl Family will always remain so precious to me, and I miss seeing Carlos’ cheerful face as he shared with all of us. I chat each day with my dear friends, brought together by Molly and McGee and am so grateful for the joy this brings to my life. May God bless the Royals and all of the descendants of our Beloved Owls!
    Love to all,
    Holly Sue

  20. Kathy W Says:

    Wonderful trip down memory lane. This experience of getting to know about owls through Molly, McGee and Carlos is the gold standard to which other owl boxes are compared. Having watched many other sites it is always inevitable that someone will bring up how it all got started here. Thank you.

  21. Carol Sue Says:

    Linda, what memories we have. Thank you for that essay, precious memories brought forward. Carlos, Donna and Austin what an education. I remember I couldn’t get home from work fast enough so I could turn on my laptop and watch. My daughter is a 1st grade teacher and uses information I have given her to teach about owls. I so love the post from the Owl Box. May God bless you.

    Carol Sue

  22. Lisa. Burns Says:

    Beautiful! Our Owlbox,…Thank you!! All so true!!! MOD for life from NE Florida!

  23. Colleen Smith Says:

    Thank you for writing this wonderful Essay Linda ! It brought back so many great memories
    as well as tears, as I experienced both clutches and will never forget them !!

    Thanks again for bringing us altogether again….it is very emotional and precious for me to hold onto …….

    Colleen Smith, aka @dncrovlife
    Massachusetts

  24. Jo-Ann Giunti Says:

    What a beautiful narrative…!!!! and so well written.. It brought lots of smiles and many memories.… I started watching Molly and McGee about a month after it started and none of the owlets had hatched. . I was glued to my computer from the start. I miss all of this… thank you Linda… you made my morning…

  25. Kathie Utt Says:

    Reading this brings me back to the warm & fuzzy feeling when Molly & McGee were with us. Thank you! I wish things were now as they were then but life goes on! I miss Carlos & Donna but know they are enjoying the retirement they deserve concentrating on their grandchildren. Best to all!!

  26. J Barreras Says:

    Oh, those were the days! Such endearing memories that were brought about by Donna and Carlos hosting Molly and McGee in their owl box. Would be sitting in the living room and hear Carlos’ voice come on in the computer room. Raced to hear the latest updates that always brought joy and enthusiasm to see what was happening in the lives of the owls next! Miss those days, and all that went along with the owls. . .

  27. OC Says:

    Linda, what a wonderful walk down memory lane. It was a special time for the many millions that tuned in and we will never forget the words … ” This is Carlos Royal coming to you from the owl box in San Marcos, California ” . Those were the good ole days :) Thank you for posting Carlos and Donna

  28. Linda Greene Says:

    Wowl..That was super Linda. Thanks for sharing. Love those memories and miss the Royals, M & M, and all the MODS and mods!!
    ldgreene123

  29. Sherrie Pearl Says:

    Wow what a beautiful summary Linda, thank you.
    Molly, McGee, Max, Pattison, Austin, Wesley ,Ashley & Carrie.

    I have memory boxes and framed tiles of all and am always looking at them. What a wonderful experience and I am so happy & proud to say I’m an Owlcoholic!!!

    There will never be another experience as sweet as this was. We all got to see a pair of wild barn owls mate, lay eggs, hatch, grow up and fly high and free as they were meant to be.

    There have been a lot of friendships made along the way and thank you so much Carlos & Donna for this wonderful experience.

    I’m sitting here crying happy tears and looking for a Shamwow!!!

    Gee isn’t this fun and I’m certainly happy that I was part of it.
    Sherrie Pearl (Sher67)

  30. Barb Polo Says:

    Linda, “thanks for the memories” What a wonderful essay to bring us all back to where it started with an owl box and a man named Carlos. :) All of us experienced something that was unknown and exciting and put us in the company of so many others who were experincing it all at the same time and thanks to SPO’s wildlife sites for continuing to keep “Our Owl Box” still up and running so that we can chat with the friends made in the past three and a half years. Just recently SPO started a taped loop of our Molly & McGee running in place of the photo gallery they had for us since the cameras went down in San Marcos. We all still miss seeing Carlos and Donna everyday and hearing the Molly song (made some of us find the mute button) on occasion but we do still have a great group in our chat and miss those other millions of like minded owl lovers.

  31. Joan from Colorado Says:

    what a special time this was.. it was a magic fairy tale.. nice to remember

  32. Vickie from Tulsa Says:

    It seems it was just yesterday, so clear in my memory.
    Gee, it WAS fun! And I was part of it!

  33. Elizabeth Sprague Says:

    Everyone else has said it all. Thanks for the memories. I had never done “chat’ before! It was an amazing experence connecting with people that way. I learned a lot about owls and life on the internet. Made so many friends and discovered Nutella!

  34. Candy Says:

    It was difficult to go back to “What I used to do” because I forgot what it was. :) Thank you Carlos and Donna for giving me days and nights filled with fun. It was also a learning experience. Molly and McGee and their owlet offspring was truly an experience I will never forget.
    Thanks Linda for putting into words how we all felt and will keep those remembrances with us forever.

  35. Bev S. Says:

    Thank you, Linda! What wonderful memories we all have of watching Molly, McGee, their offspring, and Carlos’s family. :)

  36. Patsy Butler aka MomNbeth Says:

    Thank you Linda for this it is beautiful, oh the memories it brings back. Some of us still meet once a month at the Elephant Bar in San Marcos. Send out much love to everyone and Carlos and Donna and Austin too! <3

  37. CAequuslvr Says:

    Linda, thanks for the memories and capturing such a magical time in our lives. M&M was a unique experience that will forever be in our hearts. Such wonderful times of laughter, friendships, and yes, even tears.
    Nothing will ever replace the “M&M family”.

  38. ranyart Says:

    Smiling through happy tears – well said Linda and thanks again to Carlos, Donna, Austin, and everyone who joined together in the Owl Box. Gee that Was Fun and we were a part of it!
    Awesome memories and much love in the Owl Box.

  39. Genny, aka MnMwwatchnSantee Says:

    Very wonderfully written. It captured everything about Molly n McGee, Carlos & Donna and all of us “watchers.” I have many memories of being in the chat room late at night and just enjoying the company there. My granddaughter even got in on the story, at a young age 2. I have the book, a cd, a few momentos from Cafe Press and lifelong memories of these precious owls. thank you so much.

  40. Grace Shaw Says:

    What a great summary of our Molly and McGee experience, Linda. Thanks.

    I often wonder if Carlos and Donna are watching new clutches of owls
    from Molly’s and McGee’s children. While I know there will never be
    another Owl Box “live” for us to share, I wish that Carlos would post once
    in awhile and let us know if the Molly and McGee family lives on. Even
    if we can never watch it, it would be nice to know that the Owl Box is
    lived in again.

    Thanks to everyone who was involved in the Owl Box experience.

    I’ve loved owls all my life. I have photos, pillows, books and tiles of Molly,
    McGee and all the clutches we were allowed to share in my home, along with
    all my other owl paraphernalia. I often search the internet for photos of
    owls of all sorts. I just love them and keep wishing my husband would
    build the owl box he keeps promising to build. I know that there are
    owls in our woods. I can hear them and one neighbor has seen them. I
    haven’t been so lucky. But I know that they are there and I pray that
    they can live out their lives in health and safety.

    The Owl Box experience was a special time in my life that I never imagined
    would happen. It has changed so many of us for the better and I hope that
    we will never forget it. Many thanks to all involved.

  41. Lucy Sanders Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Linda certainly captured that time perfectly in her article, brought tears to my eyes. I for one will never forget that time, Carlos & Donna, Austin, Eric, and all the MOD’s; and of course, Molly & McGee. What a special thing to forever hold in our hearts & minds! Awesome!

    Take care everyone,
    Lucy (Troy, Ohio Silent MOD :-) )

  42. Donna Smith Says:

    On Linda That was a real tear jerker! What a wonderful reminder of those lovely times. It opened a whole new world for me and so many others. I hope all is well for Carlos, Donna, Austin, Eric, Barbara and all who made this experience so unforgettable. Thanks
    Donna Smith


  43. What a wonderful tribute to Molly & McGee, all their owlets, Carlos, Donna, Austin, Eric, Barbara and MODs…. Miss them still – will live in my heart forever. Maybe one day Carlos will take up the cause and stream new residents to the Owl Box. We can only hope.

  44. Jeslyn Says:

    This article captured our entire time so nicely. Hard to read with tears brimming over my eye lids.
    I wonder if Molly is the reason there are now so many owl products for sale in all the various stores this fall..
    Even owl spatulas!
    I miss you all and if you ever want to reach out to the hard core few, we still chat on Vacadude’s site the first Sunday night of tthe month, at 6 pm PST. Ustream of course.
    You will find so many familiar names there so join us!

    Molly & McGee are not forgotten.

    Jes63 ( Jeslyn )

  45. Nhptown Says:

    Thank you! What a great write up. Loved seeing familiar names here. Indeed, we lived with Owls thanks to the Royal family.

  46. ruthiesmom2 Says:

    Even my eyes are smiling! (((Hugs to All))) Thanks for the walk down Memowlry Lane Linda. It Does feel just like yesterday! Whenever I see my former students they tell me about the Owl objects they’ve seen that remind them of owly me. So the Owl interest continues to ripple flowing forward.

    In Michigan barn owls so endangered, not seen since late 1970’s.. till late last year, when a poison tyto alba found at a farm was brought in to the Raptor Center at Blandford Nature Center. Bleeding, showing significant neurological deficits, it looked very bad. But, he survived! After months of rehab he was released back to the wild. Not so hopeful considering anticoagulant rodent killer usage in MI, But, Blandford used this opportunity to Educate, immediately bringing an unreleasable female from Washington state, to live in a new, comfy, safe, barn structure.

    Last month I Saw her! Beautiful beyond words. She rotated ever so slightly as I entered, (anxious), then calmed. Later other people entered, and toe dusting began, wings started to raise to mantling, so I exited. Later I returned and she was perfectly calm, though clearly aware through scrunchy closed eyes. I took a few phone pics, (she rotated again), and was about to leave so she could have some peace, when I remembered the Feathers! Sure enough there were several feathers on the safety fence area. I touched, ahhh! softer than chinchilla! photographed, with a pic showing the Feather on the fence where I left it. I Did confess to the Naturalist I touched, but left the feather on the fence, and was told the Feds would never know ; ) What a thrill, seeing a live barnie up close! And identifying behaviors We MODS studied up close on the owls cams. The owl cams opened a vast new territory of understanding, and appreciation of the balance of nature, these beneficial creatures. We certainly have all been blessed with a special gift that keeps on giving.
    Warmest regards,
    Ruthiesmom2


  47. loved watching Molly and McGee…great parents and wonderful fledglings…miss them, hope all is well with all the owls…

  48. Tricia Young aka HOOT GIBSON on SS Says:

    HootGibson checking in here. (aka Tricia)
    So many wonderful hours spent with the MODS and M&M’?
    Tears of laughter, joy and trepidation ensued as chores, husbands, children and work were immensely neglected in favor of the MOD SQUAD and our sweet owls. MOD lunches and meet ups were established and I made a best owl friend, DeeAnn from Poway on the social stream. We have really bonded and thanks to Carlos and Donna, lifetime friendships were formed. Perhaps a singles dating site for owl lovers could be created? MOLLY MODS are the best peeps on earth.
    Tricia Young triciafromatherton@gmail.com if you MODS want
    To connect. I’m in SF Ca.
    THANK YOU CARLOS AND DONNA. Oh Austin too!!!

  49. Sally aka MollyLoverForever Says:

    Remember the second picnic! I went to that one! I’m still totally into owls because of M&M, Carlos and Donna, et al. Can’t imagine being w/o them! Thank you!

  50. sl dausch Says:

    Thank you Linda for such a wonderful recap of a time in a lot of people’s hearts, shared by millions Molly and McGee will live in our hearts along with Carlos & Donna and all the warm hearted folks who also contributed to this experience that is truly reality in “real time” and I was part of all the fun and I give thanks for this :) <3


  51. I can’t believe it’s been that long. It seems as if it were last spring. I believe all MODS were changed forever by the Molly experience. People from all over the world, and all walks of life hurried home, stayed up late, forming a world wide family. I believe I made four afghans while watching and listening.i miss all the people with whom I became friends. I’ve kept in touch with some.
    Many heartfelt thanks for the precious memories.
    MaAnnie

  52. NatureLuver Says:

    Fantastic Linda!

    I just happened to be wearing one of my M&M shirts, the “First Graduating Class,” today at an Audubon sponsored event and people thought it was so cute. It was one of VacaDude’s cartoons of Max, Pattison, Austin and Wesley.

    I still have my bumper stickers on the front of my locker at work and all my coworkers still talk about those days. I also just moved into an apartment and was given owl Coffee mugs, I wasn’t about to let it be known how many owl mugs I already own, LOL!

    So many wonderful memories and emotions. Wow, Donna and Carlos changed so many lives with Molly & McGee. So glad I was a part of it!

    >3 to you all!
    NatureLuver, Liz G.
    Houston, TX

  53. Donna V Says:

    Beautifully written Linda, brought tears to my eyes. I watched from the beginning and will never forget. I learned so much about owls and I’m so grateful to the Royals for the experience.

  54. Vee Miller (VeeTX) Says:

    Thank you Linda for the wonderful essay about the Molly and McGee phenomenon. A number of chatters and moderators stay in touch to this day;continuing to share our life events, cajole, and encourage each other via Face Book and VacaChat on intermittent Sundays (by John Atkinson who is known as VacaDude – he lives in Vacaville, CA. What a study in human behavior, huh? Thank you again. “It was fun and I’m glad I was a part of it!” (as Carlos always said).

  55. Angel Fitzsimmons Says:

    I am one of the many people whose life was forever changed because of this Owlsome experience with Molly, McGee and the Royal Family. I cherish these fond memories and as many have stated, it seems like it was just yesterday. Carlos, your presence was quintessential and made it all the more intimate and personal to each of us! TY, Linda, for this incredible, heart-warming essay! I hope many other Barnies have been born from these darling owlets we watched blossom three years ago!


  56. I still use my “magic feather” bookmark and often remember how educational and fun it was to watch the owls day by day. Thank you for your essay- it made my pulse beat faster remembering those experiences. My husband and I love the Royals and we will always have a special place in our hearts for Molly, McGee and the kids.
    Roz from Tacoma

  57. Kremer Says:

    Thank you for posting the great essay. “We were part of it!”

  58. Judy Sackson Says:

    What wonderful memories that article brought back! I got as teary eyed as many others, reliving those days! Thank you, Linda, for making those days live again for us, and thanks always to the Royal family for the wonderful experience we all had! So glad I was a part of it! Maybe more owls this spring…

  59. Joan from NC Says:

    Those were the days and I loved every minute of them. Watching those babies from egg to young adult was amazing! Thanks for the memories

  60. gmarch53 Says:

    I am a C2 and C3 MOD. I enjoyed the article. Always a Nite Owl, Molly and McGee gave new meaning to my nocturnal activities.
    I am SO glad I tuned into a mid-summer NBC Nightly News broadcast w/ Brian Williams in 2010!
    Thanks Carlos, Donna and Austin…that was fun and I was part of it.
    The fun continues on Friday evenings @ MMN (Molly Movie Night) where we watch tapes of Molly and McGee ~ The World’s Most Famous Barn Owls!!

  61. tresbien Says:

    Oh what a time it was! Thanks for sharing Linda Stryker’s remembrances Carlos. It still fills me with wonder to think of how from Donna’s request for an owl box to Carlos’ wish to share the broadcast with mom and sister our amazing adventure with Molly & McGee evolved. Sending good wishes to the Royals and all who were involved in this amazing owl box adventure. Much love,
    tresbien/Linda

  62. Napaelle Says:

    Thank you so much Linda! I also teared up as a previous fan writes. Remembering and being part of the wonderful journey the Barn Owls and the Royals shared with us lives on in your storytelling. I have purchased a lot of the items to keep near and appreciated a lot of the freebies Carlos let us download. I cannot say the experience changed my life but I can say it was eye opening, educational and a deeply gratifying experience that I will carry with me my whole life.
    Thank you Carlos and Donna for keeping this blog going….xo

  63. sandy/Racoona Says:

    What a lovely story….all in a nut shell. I spent many hours watching all this and would keep my computer running, all night (which was the “action”” and “hunting” time.) Loved it all to the very end. How the heck did I have so much time doing this? Don’t know. Just glad I was part of it, and it sure was a fun time! God Bless to the Royals and all involved
    on this wonderful memory.

  64. OUBobcat (barb) Says:

    Thank you Linda. We were brought into an amazing window of nature. It changed our lives. I think we all look at the birds in our yards in such a new way. What a wonder! A blessing.

  65. Janet Says:

    The story goes on, Our lives are forever changed, With owls life is good.

  66. Jody Veith Says:

    It was a magical time!

  67. erindort Says:

    Linda, I enjoyed every phrase and the memories they brought back. Truly, it was a time of enchantment. Thanks so very, very much for putting it into an article. And thanks, Carlos for posting it!!!

  68. Peggy Anderson Says:

    I, too, was enthralled with the whole Molly/McGee time. I even took my laptop on a weekend trip to Seattle so I wouldn’t miss anything while sitting in the motel!..Then, our best friends’ GrandSon married Donna & Carlo’s GrandDaughter and I got a great, lovely picture of them in front of the owl box. I was so upset when it all ended, but man OH man did I learn a lot. Such a fun time – thanks for the memories!

  69. kate Says:

    What a wonderfully done piece, Linda. You captured the heart of the Owl Box so perfectly. I learned about Molly and McGee from Rosie O’Donnell’s blog and was instantly addicted. My poor family was shorted many home-cooked meals back then but I knew we were privy to something beyond special that would likely never be again. The laptop stayed open all night with the volume cranked up lest we miss something in the wee hours. That bonding business was noisy and fascinating all at the same time. It seemed wrong to gawk, but I just couldn’t look away! The Owl Box was educational, it was uplifting, it was reality tv at its best! I loved Molly’s strong personality and McGee’s work ethic. I loved watching all of the “kids” and seeing the differences in their personalities and their behaviors. What I loved most of all were the early mornings with Carlos-his special morning beverage, the latest updates, his youthful enthusiasm, and his entertaining commentary. Oh, if only time travel were possible, I’d go back to one of those mornings and relish every moment all over again. Thank you Carlos, Donna, and Austin for wonderful friendships made and one-of-a-kind memories that will cherish forever.

  70. Sherrie aka Sharoot Says:

    Wonderful article Linda, my thoughts eggactly! I am forever touched by the magic of those times. I still have a crush on McGee. Thank you M & M and Carlos and family for sharing.
    Hugs, Sharoot

  71. Shirley Charlton Says:

    Loved your article Linda. I was one of those viewers and it was a wonderful experience,,,something I will never forget.

  72. Darlene Olson Says:

    I was so excited to see a post in my inbox from Molly’s Box and what a treat it was to stroll down a feathery memory lane….horks and all! Thank you Linda for writing such a marvelous reminder of some of the sweetest times together. Thank you, Carlos, for posting it! We still miss you and Donna and part of me still yearns to see our owls again! What a special family we all are…all over the world! What joy Molly & McGee brought to many people!
    Love & blessings to all,
    Darlene aka texasgrandmadarlene

  73. rockinowl Says:

    Molly and McGee were definitely a positive factor in my life as I was recovering from major surgery during the first babies.

  74. Kim Gorman Says:

    Wonderfully written and so accurate. I’m still using my mouse pad with the wonderful photo of Max, Austin and Pattison standing in tandem on the kestrel box, all looking left towards the owl box. Thank you all for sharing this extraordinary event in all our lives. We are forever bonded.

  75. Selena Says:

    “This is Carlos Royal coming to you live from the Owl Box…”
    I will never forget those words! It’s like “Live from New York” or “Heeeeer’s Johnny”. Thank you everyone for making it such a wonderful memory!


  76. Oh how I miss the hours spent with Molly and McGee, Carlos, and the “family” we shared during those days. The get-to-gathers, the friendships formed, the togetherness when we shared or fears for our “babies”. Amazing how tow wee owls could bring so many from around the world together

  77. owloverbo Says:

    Oh how I miss those hours I enjoyed with all of you. I check back occasionally just to see if anything is posted. This one brings tears of happiness to my eyes as the old lady remembers.
    Thank you Carlos “This is Carlos Royal coming to you live from the Owl Box…”

  78. Theresa Says:

    Thank you, Lynda, for the memories. My Molly & McGee ornament has never left the side of my kitchen window :)
    Blessings,
    Theresa

  79. Theresa Says:

    Sorry, Linda – not Lynda, :)


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