Will Molly and McGee be together for life?
Yes. Barn owls mate for life.

Why does he come in and sit on her?
When McGee sits on her, this is called bonding. It’s quick and noisy. It is not procreative activity, it’s meant to reinforce their pair bond.

So, is the bonding actual mating?
Bonding isn’t mating. It doesn’t fertilize eggs. It’s a behavior that, like hugging or kissing, makes them “feel” bonded to each other and more likely to raise a successful clutch.

Does Molly get hurt during bonding?
No. If you watch closely, McGee is careful not to put his talons into Molly. The screeching can sound alarming  is just part of the process.

Can they break the eggs or hurt the owlets while bonding?
No, McGee weighs less than one pound and the eggs are very strong. Molly also raises up her body so that she’s not putting weight on the eggs or owlets.

When Molly calls to him, why doesn’t he come?

Sometimes Molly “talks” to McGee when he’s flying by. He’s not stopping in yet, but he’ll usually be by soon.

When did Molly lay her eggs?

Clutch 1

  • Egg 1: February 13, 2010; 12:15 PM PT
  • Egg 2: February 16, 2010; 7:23 AM PT
  • Egg 3: February 18, 2010; 9:13 AM PT
  • Egg 4: February 20, 2010; 11:07 AM PT

Clutch 2

  • Egg 1: July 6, 2010;
  • Egg 2: July 8, 2010;
  • Egg 3: July 11, 2010;
  • Egg 4: July 14, 2010;

How long have they been in the box?
Molly and McGee’s first clutch was laid in February, 2010.

Why do people think this is Molly and McGee’s first clutch?
Molly had an interesting reaction when she laid her first egg. She didn’t seem to know what it was nor what to do with it. She also had a hard time keeping the eggs under her.  According to Carlos, Molly seemed to learn and got better at it as she laid more eggs.

How many clutches of eggs will they lay this year?
Owls usually lay one clutch of eggs per year. Sometimes they lay a second set of eggs in the same year after the first brood has learned to fly and feed themselves. This is called “double clutching”.

Will they come back to the same place to nest again next year?
It’s possible, unless another pair of owls has claimed the spot.

Is McGee bonded to other owls?
It is not unheard of for male barn owls have a second mate at the same time. However, as far as we know, McGee is only mated with Molly.

What happens if the male does not return due accident, etc.?
If the male does not return, the female will usually abandon the nest. Having a mate is critical to the survival of the owlets.

Learn when the eggs will hatch.

16 Responses to “Life Mates”

  1. Fran Carlson Says:

    My family and I (in San Antonio, TX) have really enjoyed reading your information and watching the Owl nest. Our friends, Sam & Bonnie Warren, from Fullerton, CA are visiting and told us about it and are here with us now watching also.

  2. i have so enjoyed watching the owls and owlets. and their comings and goings. and how they help one another. i felt a little sorry for wes, when he wasn’t getting much to eat, but molly took care of him. he looks so little. he has hardly ever seen the outdoors, because of being in the back corner so much.
    they help each other until it comes time for food , then it’s survival of the fittest. but they are just beautiful, i get so relaxed just watching them.
    especially early on when molly was still sitting on the eggs, and trying so hard to stay awake. thank you from all of us. have a good day. judi

  3. Susan Says:

    Dear Carlos and Donna,
    Thank You for sharing this wonderful experience with the ‘world’. I live in Temecula, not far from the owlet family.

  4. Nancy Davis Says:

    I have really enjoyed watching the barn owls and so has my granddaughter. I heard you talking about a book and was wondering about the details of when and how to order? Also was wondering if the pictures you took can be printed? They are wonderful shots. Do the siblings mate?
    Thank you for all the time you have spent and making this a memorable time for lots of people.

  5. Virgene Colby Says:

    Carlos and Donna, thank you for a wonderful experience. I have watched from eggs to fledging.

    Hope you make a coffe table book of your owl pictures.



  7. Eileen Says:

    Molly and McGee have raised their family….now
    on June 15, 2010 observation seems to think that Molly and McGee have came back to the box and
    “double clutching” may be a possibility. We hope
    the live web cam will take us on a second journey.

  8. Susan Newsom Says:

    Thank you so much for the experience of a life time! I’ve become so attached to Mollie and McGee and the babies and will miss them so much. I know you and Donna need a vacation and to get some of you life back to normal but I hope you will consider another live web cam when you return. I, like many others, are experiencing an empty nest feeling and will feel lost without being able to watch the owlets.

    I live in Kennesaw, Georgia now but grew up in San Diego so I feel like I know the area and still consider California my home. Is there any way I could purchase the pictures you’ve taken or if you also do a Coffee Table book, I could purchase that as well?

    Again, thank you for all that you and Donna have done for so many. The hours and hours of joy and happiness watching this wonderful experience will never be forgotten!

  9. Merrill Hunn Says:

    Thanks for everything! This has been quite an adventure.

  10. Bea Porter Says:

    Thank you so much for your time, expense, and effort in making this site available to all of us. I feel so blessed in being able to see some of God’s creatures in thier eliment.

    Keep up the good work

  11. Aug.27 Says:

    We saw Molly eat one of her owlets as I’m sure many other people did, also. So why do you keep saying cause of her disappearance- unknown.

    • carlosroyal Says:

      We don’t. We say Molly consumed the owlets because that is the way of the owls. So I don’t know where you are getting your miss information.

  12. floridaheat Says:

    I love the owlbox

  13. jean MacArthur Says:

    U’ve been away for a month, can’t remember how to toggle between outside camera and inside camera. HELP!

  14. Beth Says:

    Just wanted to thank you for this opportunity. During a very rough time in my life, Molly, McGee and their family have helped to keep my mind focused on other things. Your site and your attitude are uplifting, educational and spiritual. Thank you for being a part of my life if only for a short time.

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