Aren’t baby owls called “chicks”?
Unlike some birds, baby owls are actually called “owlets”.
What happens after the owlet hatches?
Molly removes the eggshell to help it get out. She sometimes “talks” to the owlet. She keeps her face close to it and gently “rubs” her beak all over the owlet. Some watchers get concerned that she might eat the owlet, but there is no cause for concern. She seems to shield the owlet from the door and also “cuddles” it. This behavior is important for the imprinting of the owlet to its mother.
The newly-hatched owlet is squawking! Does it need to eat right away?
So far, neither Max nor Pattison were fed immediately. Molly usually rubs them for a while and then tucks them under her to keep them warm.
What does an owlet look like?
When the owlets hatch, they are mostly pink with a few white feathers. In a couple of hours, they’ll start getting whitish-yellow fuzz. In a couple of weeks, their eyes open. In a month, they will have a heart-shaped, white face that matches Molly and McGee’s. They grow quickly! Birds of prey are the fastest growing vertebrates and barn owls reach adult weight and feathering in 8-9 weeks.
See photos of baby barn owls from “just hatched” to “ready to fly”: http://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/infopage.html?Id=50
When do they open their eyes?
Baby owlets eyes will open 10-12 days after they hatch.
How can I tell them apart?
Because the owlets hatch about 2 days apart, each one will be at slightly different stages of development. See this link for the hatching order.
How are the owlets fed?
Molly and McGee tear off very small strips of meat and pull them across the owlet’s beak. They do not regurgitate the food like some birds do. This behavior also causes the gastric juices to start flowing in the owlet’s stomach to digest the food.
Will sitting on the babies smother them?
No. If you look carefully, you will see that Molly puts most of her weight on her legs, and not on them. The owlets put their heads down and curl up into an egg shape. They are warm and have all the air they need under there.
Can the owlets fall out of the box?
Molly watches them closely, and the edge of the door is high enough that it would be difficult when they are small. Even the owlets themselves have a sense not to get near the nest edge. However, if one does fall out, Donna and Carlos will not interfere or rescue. While this might be hard to watch, it’s important to allow nature to select the ones that will survive.
As the chicks hatch, how will Molly make sure they all eat, or do the fittest survive?
Sometimes the youngest ones don’t survive. Because barn owl eggs hatch in the order they were laid, the older, stronger owls get a head start on the ones that are born later.
Do owlets eject or hurt other brood mates?
It’s possible, that older owlets could hurt younger ones. This is how the strongest birds survive. However, barn owls are among the few birds whose young actually play together.
How long will the owlets stay in the nest before they leave?
Owlets will stay in the nest box for about 49 – 54 days before they are ready to fly. This brood will leave the next sometime between May 19 and May 24, 2010.
Will McGee help feed the babies?
Yes, McGee catches food for Molly and the babies. Two weeks after the owlets hatch, Molly will hunt for food too.
What are the names of the owlets, and what significance do the names have?
- “Max” – Max is Carlos’ friend of over 40 years who recently turned 80!
- “Pattison” – Pattison Elementary is the name of the first school with which Carlos did a live question and answer session via Ustream with students.
- “Austin” – Is Carlos and Donna’s tech-savvy grandson who helped set up the social media side of the Molly experience.
How long until the babies fly the coop?
Somewhere around May 10-15, the owlets will “fledge” and take their first flight.
Can the eggs or owlets get too hot?
Yes, it is possible that they could get too hot and die, but not likely.
What is their survival rate?
In general, only 25-40% of the owlets live long enough to breed (about 8-12 months). It’s important for viewers to be aware that there’s a possibility that not all the owlets will survive. The Royals intend to let nature take its course, and will not interfere or rescue the owls if anything happens to them.