Well, not really a National day but the City of San Marcos declared March 25, Molly and McGee Day in 2010.  I can think of no better example for people to follow than Molly and McGee when it comes to raising a family.  This loving pair of barn owls demonstrated dedication, patience, hard work, caring and protection of their family. Once the brooding process started Molly would not leave the Owl Box/home until the youngest owlet had learned to swallow a whole mouse. Even though the law of nature says the biggest and the strongest gets the most, Molly made sure her littlest also got his share.  McGee would hunt all night if necessary to provide his family food and both he and Molly were always on the watch for predators, ready to fight to the death to defend their family.

Update: We replaced the owl box this year, but so far no owls. I have seen some in the area but none have taken up residency. Austin completed his courses for his BA and is now doing advanced studies which he completes in July. Eric Blehm and his wife are building a new home in Cardiff by the Sea and working on his next book. Chris Adams and his wife have moved from Boston to Seattle, so they are now on the West coast. Donna and I are in good health and helping my sister plan a big 99th birthday party for my mother. If you remember, the owl box was the result of Donna and I wanting to share Molly with my mother and sister. It just happened that 21 million other people from 104 countries decided to watch too. Gee it was fun and we were all a part of it.

Carlos, Donna and Austin

Congratulations Austin Faure

December 18, 2013

Graduation

Graduation

 

 

This past Monday Austin completed his BA studies in Graphic Media Art with straight “A’s.”  Graduation ceremonies will not be until April. Time does fly by when you are having fun.  He completed his BA in 2.5 years, but there is no rest for him. On Tuesday he started his post BA study classes at Platt College and will continue his education for another 6 months specializing in videography, 3D Dynamics and advanced web design. While at Platt College he started their Live Broadcast Department.  Platt College can now broadcast, (live stream), their graduation ceremonies and other events. Remember when I did it with my iPhone?  It was really bad, but at least I shared the moment. Thanks to Austin, Platt College now can do live green screen compositing and multi-camera HD broadcasting using advanced audio setups. He is the manager of their Live Broadcast Department.

Austin also just returned from a video-taping trip to Arizona where he was the camera operator and director of video production and aerial media project for NRG Solar, a Fortune 500 company. Ryan Lee Media, the company that helped Austin produce his owl videos, is producing informational and promotional material on the world’s largest panel solar plant for NRG. Austin is working with Ryan Lee Media on the project which will require videoing in not only Arizona but also California and Nevada.

Donna, Austin and I would like to thank everyone that supported Austin and made possible his college education. He is the first in his family to get a college degree.

Again, Thank You.

Carlos, Donna and Austin

P.S. Yes, it is okay to stand up and clap and share in the moment.  You were a part of it.

SHINE ON by Jacqui Oakley

December 11, 2013

Illustration by Jacqui Oakley

Illustration by Jacqui Oakley

Each year WordPress.com collaborates with wonderful artists to create a festive WordPress illustration for the holiday season. Dave Whitley of WordPress worked with Jacqui Oakley on this year’s version.

Wallpapers

As always, they’ve also created some cheerful wallpaper to match, available in different sizes for your device of choice:

Jacqui also has a print of a Mother and baby barn owl that can be purchased on her website suitable for framing.

To view: http://jacquioakley.com/288

To visit her shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/jacquioakley

Merry Christmas

Carlos, Donna and Austin

P.S. If the W for WordPress is inverted it becomes M for Molly.

Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons

 

The Owl Box came into being during the Great Recession, many people were suffering, financially, physically and mentally.  The Owl Box became a refuge from their troubles, a place where they could see there was hope as they watched a young mother owl struggle to raise her brood. Over 21 million human spirits were connected around the world. They laughed, they cried, and they cheered. The Owl Box had  “A Reason To Be.” Theresa Reed one of the millions of Molly Watchers also had “A Reason To Be.”

When Theresa Reed went to work at a small law office, “organ donation” was not part of the job description. But one day she recognized a client whose husband was ill. As she debated whether to buy flowers, send a card, or pray for the ailing man. God quietly asked. “Would you give him a Kidney?”

“In San Marcos, California there is an owl box in the backyard of Carlos and Donna Royal. I want them to know that, ultimately, it was the story of those famous barn owls, Molly and McGee, that inspired me to make my own story public.  After all, when a pair of barn owls can fund a young man’s college career, the possibilities seem endless. “

UPDATE: Austin Faure will get his BA degree next month, he is in his final classes thanks to those that supported him and the Owl Box.

You can obtain a copy of Theresa Reed’s faith based book, A Reason To Be at  https://www.createspace.com/4306385

I hope you enjoy it, I did.

Carlos Royal

 

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”

Great Barn Owl Video

October 18, 2013

Want to see the beauty and grace of the barn owl?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkP4Ro2gRl8&list=SPtra-MWzIvZG_TnFr7Ea05qDP0Vt5siKb&index=28

Enjoy

Carlos Royal

Roark is Back

January 25, 2013

Roark Red-Shoulder Hawk

Roark Red-Shoulder Hawk

We have had some rather yucky weather here in San Marcos but the hawks love it because the grubs come to the surface and are easy pickings.   We have actually had a pair of hawks in the backyard most every morning. Wouldn’t it be fun if they nested but I think they like to nest in tall trees which we don’t have in our backyard. We just have lots of grubs for them to feed on.

I just got a text message from Austin, he just completed “3D Animation,” at Platt College with a score of 99%.  One more course down on his way to his BA degree.

I turn 70 tomorrow and I must say, so far it has been a great ride. It helps not to spend too much time looking in the mirror, front or rear view. Donna and I have several trips planned for 2013 and may add a few more just for fun.  We are really getting into road trips and just stopping when something looks interesting, but to be honest it is hard to find a more exciting place than our backyard. This week we have seen red-shoulder hawks, kestrels, scrub- jays, mockingbirds, hummingbirds, yellow-rumped warblers, cedar waxwings, bushtits and a ruby-crown kinglet.

Here is some great advice for a rainy day: Play in the puddles.

You have a great day, I am off to play in the puddles.

Carlos, Donna and Austin

Wishes for the World

December 21, 2012

 

 

Owls at dusk

Owls created by 3rd and 4th graders

Owls before dusk

Light and Life

 

Wishes for the World

On this day of the winter solstice, children and teachers at The Mead School in Stamford, Connecticut send out to the world wishes for light and life, peacefulness and unity.  Mead School children were the voices on the very first Molly Song.

Third and fourth graders at Mead created these owl lamps to send light out into the world, and now honor the twenty beautiful children and six dedicated educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook School in neighboring Newtown, CT, in a senseless act of violence one week ago – December 14th, 2012.

May their spirits soar, like our beloved owls.

This was sent to us by Barbara Allen, creator of the Molly Songs. She is an elementary school teacher at Mead School in Stamford, Connecticut.

One lesson we learned from The Owl Box.  Even in tragedy life goes on.

 

“Dear Carlos:

 Attached are two photos and a little write-up to post. Thank you so much for doing this on our behalf as we wish light and life to our owl friends across the world. 
Today at 9:30 am, bells will toll 26 times all over CT, NY and NJ to honor the lost lives of teachers and children.
Maybe you can think of us then!
Best to you,
Barbara”

 

Donna and I celebrated 51 years together yesterday. I took her out to dinner at Donavon’s, in La Jolla, California. It was a wow experience. I let them know we would be celebrating our 51st Wedding Anniversary and they did the rest. What I thought was really cool was they let all the staff know, not just the hostess, so everyone congratulated us from manager to busboy, plus the food was exceptional.  We had filet mignon and they surprised us with an after dinner desert of crème brulee served with two champagne cocktails. It was our first time there and I am sure we will be going back. To show Donna just how special she is to me, I surprised her with a kaleidoscope key pendant from Tiffany’s. We had agreed not to get anything this year, (I mean we have been married over 50 years), so it was really a surprise.  We will be off later this year to Bangkok, Singapore, Mumbai, and Dubai.

We do not have any cameras up but I did see two owls in the backyard the other night. It was too dark to see if one of them was Molly. The Owl Box continues to remains empty at this time.

We have been very blessed and we wish you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

All the best,

 

Carlos, Donna and Austin

P.S. Austin just finished another business class in accounting; this is in addition to his regular classes in multimedia at Platt College. He has started picking up freelance jobs in web design and promotional videos. He continues with his goal of paying for his college tuition himself.

 

15% Off Sale

November 23, 2012

15% Off “SHOPUP”

Lexus LFA “The Supercar”

Donna and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at Vintana’s in Escondido, California. It is a really nice restaurant located above, of all places, a car dealership. On second thought, what a great marketing concept. To get to the upscale restaurant we walked through the beautiful massive glass enclosed Lexus show room to an all glass elevator that took us up to the third floor where there is a stunning view of the city. Wow! And yes, we could see all the magnificent new cars with red bows on top on our ride up.

Now, if that wasn’t enough, there were three more top of the line luxury cars when we stepped off the elevator… the one that had most men salivating was the $350,000 Lexus LFA two-seat sports car, coined “the supercar,” by Lexus. A little salivating before dinner is good for the digestion, they say, but there is the catch. Even if you have the $350,000 to buy the supercar, you can’t, unless you were personally selected to do so by the car company. I checked, I wasn’t. Thank Goodness! Just one more thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.

While we may not have made the Lexus grade, we were recognized by another dinner, a nicely dressed lady who introduced herself as one of the 23 million Molly watchers. This was the first time we have been recognized in about a year and we enjoyed talking to her. We are blessed and thankful to have made so many Molly friends and if you see us, it is okay to come over and say hello. We don’t mind. Actually, it is kind of fun.

All the best,

Carlos, Donna and Austin
P.S. Don’t forget this is a good time to buy your Austin 2013 Calendars and get 15% off provided you buy something else to make the total $50 or more. If you want something really great, check out Austin’s Self Portrait large framed print which he did when he was in the 7th grade. All proceeds go to Austin’s college fund.

Black Friday thru Cyber Monday you can get two for one videos Molly’s Story or The World’s Most Famous Barn Owls   http://www.austin4media.com/ Now, here is how it will work, you buy one but Austin will ship you two!  Or if you buy his large framed print on Cafepress.com/Mollytheowl for $75 less the 15% discount, Austin will send you a Molly’s Story or The World’s Most Famous Barn Owl DVD video for free a $24.95 value, which you can keep or give away as a gift. In effect, you get Austin’s  large framed print ” God’s Warrior,” and the Molly Story for just $63.75. Now, here is how this will work, you buy the large framed print on Cafepress.com/mollytheowl  then you send Austin an email at  austinfaure@gmail.com with your mailing address and the video you want and he will ship you your video.

Turkey Kestrel “Is This a New Species?”
Photo by Carlos Royal “Not much meat”

Wild Turkey “Not This Thanksgiving”
Photo by Carlos Royal taken in the Arizona Mountains
We don’t want to give exact location to many hunters

Happy Thanksgiving and Big Sale

Donna, Austin and I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving with lots of turkey, dressing and blessings. I love Thanksgiving, it is one of my favorite meals and has been since I was just a little kid. I am not sure which I like the best, the dressing with all the gravy or the pies. One thing is for sure, I usually fill up on both.

Now for the sale. *Save 15% off http://www.cafepress.com/mollytheowl orders of $50 USD or more, excluding shipping charges, gift wrap charges, applicable sales tax and custom duties. All orders must be added to cart from http://www.cafepress.com/mollytheowl only. Excludes CafePress marketplace purchases, Gift Certificates, Flip products, SIGG bottles, Thermos products, yoga mats, Dreams products, Fathead products, and CafePress Make and bulk orders.

Coupon code SHOPUP must be entered at check out. Promotion starts on November 21, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. (PST) and ends on December 10, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. (PST). Offer valid online at CafePress only, cannot be combined with any other coupons or promotions and may change, be modified or cancelled at any time without notice. This promotion cannot be applied to past orders.

As of this morning the coupon was not showing up correctly on the website so remember you have to enter SHOPUP at check out to get the 15% discount. Promotion starts on November 21, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. (PST) and ends on December 10, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. So remember you can shop until December 10th and still get the discount provided you use the code SHOPUP at checkout.

Go to http://www.cafepress.com/mollytheowl

All the best this Thanksgiving Day,

Carlos, Donna and Austin
P.S. In our family instead of saying Happy Thanksgiving we call each other up and say Happy Gobble, Gobble, Gobble. Try it, it kind of fun.

Black Friday thru Cyber Monday you can get two for one videos Molly’s Story or The World’s Most Famous Barn Owls   http://www.austin4media.com/ Now, here is how it will work, you buy one but Austin will ship you two!  Or if you buy his large framed print on Cafepress.com/Mollytheowl for $75 less the 15% discount, Austin will send you a Molly’s Story or The World’s Most Famous Barn Owl DVD video for free a $24.95 value, which you can keep or give away as a gift. In effect, you get Austin’s  large framed print ” God’s Warrior,” and the Molly Story for just $63.75. Now, here is how this will work, you buy the large framed print on Cafepress.com/mollytheowl  then you send Austin an email at  austinfaure@gmail.com with your mailing address and the video you want and he will ship you your video.

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