Select Page

A Denver Owl

We’d like to keep her precise location discreet.

FAQ

About this Project

u

How?

About a month ago I walked onto a friend’s balcony and was more than a little startled by the sudden departure of a rather large bird. I had seen a depression in their planting box, but assumed it was human activity. About 3 days later eggs started showing up…

u

Where?

We are in the metro-Denver area. To protect her new family, we’d rather not say where. We now stay completely off her balcony and were careful to introduce the camera equipment slowly. She lingered to give me a long stare through the window one night before leaving, but now trusts me to watch her eggs when she goes off to hunt.

u

Why?

I am on sabbatical from teaching overseas, and looking for tech projects that help bring a little balance to an unbalanced world. My main focus has been green Internet solutions, but if this live feed can bring a little covid relief, I’m happy for that!

u

Can I use this for my class?

Absolutely. Until I get to certain subscribe thresholds, you won’t be able to embed this video, but you’re welcome to use it for any non-commercial purpose. You can link to this page or use this link to go directly to the live feed: https://redtinfilm.com/denver-owl/live

u

Hoo Hoo Hoo?

Yes, Lady Bird is a Great Horned, and thought to be the Western Taiga variant, although Great Horned Owls are known to wander far. There are three owlets. The male hovered for weeks, calling to mom, and now makes nightly appearances on-camera. The first egg hatched just after midnight April 30, after over 30 days of incubation and some below-frost nights unincubated! The eggs typically hatch asynchronously, but these did not. The female is not overheating, although she does work hard to cool herself off with gular fluttering.
u

What equipment are you using?

I am using an Axis infrared camera with a Power over Ethernet (PoE) injector. It’s overkill, but I used Cat 7 outdoor cable, so it would work in just about any future setting. I mounted the camera on a DJI Osmo car mount, which is perfect for fine adjustments. I try to make these while she’s hunting. The DJI suction mounts are really good, but as a backup I used strong film clamps. And although the equipment is padlocked, there’s a second area camera to guard both the equipment and the nest. There’s more… I’ll try to write up the whole process at some point. And yes, those are affiliate links, in the unlikely event I might offset some of the considerable expenses on this endeavor (about $2k).
u

Fun Owl Facts

How quiet are owls? Very! Check this out!

u

Did I miss something? Got a suggestion?

Just shoot me a message at: chat [email protected] redtinfilm.com .

Stills from Our Awesome Viewers

Thank you Maria and Brenda!

Contentment
Feeling loved
You have no idea how hard this is…
Is it Happy Hour yet?
Anyone for snake?
Meal time!
Selfie
Dad makes a showing!
Bad hair day
I need a mojito!
Are we on YouTube?!
Stage Fright

Videos

Kiddies Under Foot
Thanks, Maria!

Mouse Kisses
Thanks, Maria!

Rabbit, anyone?
Thanks, Maria!

Are we on YouTube?

Hubby Brings Dinner

Thank you, Maria!

Lady Bird Flight

Support this Effort

And huge thanks to those who have! I’m humbled. 🙂

Loving this?

I would have done this regardless, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a little love too. I’m about $2k underwater on this project and wouldn’t refuse small donations. Also feel free to contact me if you’d like to host this equipment after our owlets have flown the coop.

Discussion

47 Comments

  1. Cat

    Hi Mike, can you please fill us in on what happened to the owls? Thanks!

    Reply
  2. John Severson

    Hi Mike,

    Happy Friday! 🙂

    We submitted the request form for access to the new camera, but wanted to follow up with an email request just to be sure!

    Watching Lady Bird and her family over all these weeks has truly been an amazing experience. Thank you!!!!

    Can’t wait to see the new camera view!

    Cheers! Diane and John

    Reply
  3. judy silver

    Hi Mike
    Today Fri. June 19,2020 you said to e-mail you for an update on the 2 owls in the tree. So I would also like an update. and I’m posting my e-mail address to you to receive update. I also would like to contribute to the worthy caus of this project , which I am enjoying very much. I’d like an postal address to send a check . Is that OK? Let me know or all of us on a chat.-Judy

    Reply
  4. Gretchen

    Mike, count me in for the private feed and also to contribute to a gift for the owners. My email is [email protected]. My full name is Gretchen Lang. Just email me on how to proceed.

    Reply
  5. kelley geiger

    Hi Mike. I am providing my email so please keep me in the loop moving forward. I did not realize the donation was set up. I would love to contribute.

    Reply
    • Lauri Hughes

      Hi Mike, I donated this morning. Please keep half for your efforts/equipment and give half to the “landlords” for their patience with all this excitement. What a privilege this has been to watch LB and her family, Thank you!

      Reply
  6. Bev

    The May 23/24 video only shows from about 5-9 AM, unless I’m missing something. This seemed to be the case earlier this week too, where much of at least one other night wasn’t there once the video was no longer live. I thought you’d want to know. I enjoy catching up on the highlights 🙂

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Mike

      Hi Bev! I checked and the entire video is intact – I dowloaded it to be safe. If it doesn’t show up, I’ll upload a copy. Do we have invasive Doves too? Ugh. We’ll have to craft a hunting guide so these owls can help out with invasives. 🙂

      Reply
      • Bev

        I see the whole thing now, not sure what was up when I looked before. I’m glad it’s all intact!

        Reply
    • Victoria Brice

      Thanks so much for all of your efforts on this! I have watched diligently every day (through out the day) since the beginning!
      Please keep me updated on what the plans are for when they take flight, I am local.
      Cheers! Victoria

      Reply
  7. Bev

    I believe the bird at 4:47 AM was a mourning dove – small, smooth-looking head and short bill and from what I could see of the pattern on the lower back and tail during the gorging session 🙂 If any more doves are brought in, I hope they are the non-native Eurasian collared-doves…

    Reply
  8. Bev

    Hi Mike, I wanted to mention a few more things here and you can share in chat as you see fit. If there are issues with young getting (or falling) out of the nest too early or anything else, Birds of Prey Foundation is a great local raptor rehab nonprofit and may be closer than CARRI. Here’s their web page with phone number and questions they will ask https://www.birds-of-prey.org/injured-bird

    Owls can’t turn their heads quite all the way around, they can turn them 270 degrees so it can look like all the way. – It’s an out-and-back movement in either direction, not a swivel round and round like we’ve all probably seen on TV:). Here is a good Colorado Parks and Wildlife web page for general info about Colorado wildlife species – https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/SpeciesProfiles.aspx Note the tabs for birds, mammals etc then you can click on the species or group to expand. The great horned owl account includes some fun facts about appearance, behavior, etc. The mammals (and reptile!) tab include species the owls prey on, like cottontail rabbits and a number of rodent species and groups – white-footed mice, voles/meadow mice (some of the smaller short-tailed prey is likely these), harvest mice, pocket mice, woodrats and more. I think the info on this site would be helpful for some of the chat questions.

    Thanks again for your diligence in taking care of the owls’ needs!

    Reply
    • Mike

      You are just the best. This is all fantastic info. The owners are also in contact with local wildlife gov’t agencies, so my hope is that the sidewalk and/or street will get closed off and a rescue isn’t called for. I am trying to set time aside from work for when they start their first flights. I’m hoping to be on site if it’s even realistic.

      Regarding the 270 degrees… I held back from informing the young viewer as she seemed a bit fragile and I thought it best not to seem to be correcting her. It LOOKS like a full 360 so I thought I’d just go with the excitement.

      So glad you’re here and bringing this wealth of knowledge and resources to the table.

      Reply
      • Bev

        Yes it is better to be able to give the owls the space they need and hopefully not need any rescuing! Best of luck getting to see them fledge, that would be special.

        Here’s another good web site with great horned owl info, including a begging call on the sounds page – bet it gets noisy with 3 chicks!
        https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/overview

        Reply
  9. Gretchen

    Mike, do you get paid when we subscribe? I’d like to do something to support you, but I prefer not to fund YouTube.

    Reply
    • Mike

      Hi Gretchen! Great question. I do not get paid when people subscribe, and I generate no income from YouTube. If I can get to 1,000 subscribers, YouTube will let me embed the live video feeds, which would allow people to embed Lady Bird in their own Web pages. It would also allow me to make a cool “always on top” LB page people could put in the corner of their screen, create special pages for classrooms and stuff like that. 1,000 subscribers is also the threshold for YouTube advertising, so it would allow me to run ads on other videos – I’ve committed to keeping the Lady Bird live feed free from advertising. But in retirement I’d like to have owl cams and bird and bat cams and be able to support the habitat, bird food, cameras and other expenses.

      There is a donation button somewhere on this page, but it’s not something I push particularly. If you’d like to make a small contribution to offset my costs, that’s great. If not, that’s also great; I’m happy this community exists, and glad we’ve gotten to know LB. 🙂

      Reply
      • Gretchen

        Mike, I discovered that to subscribe I first have to set up a YouTube account, and I just couldn’t bring myself to create another social media account. I did make a donation here, but I’d like to do whatever else I can to support you. Thanks to you, LB and family have been significantly contributing to preserving my mental health. Every morning and every night I spend as much time on the feed as possible, and when I’m watching the owls, I feel calm and happy. I’m drawn into their small corner of beauty, and a terribly troubled world feels better for a while. I can’t tell you what this has meant to me… I am so grateful to you, and to them. What can I do to support you if I don’t have a lot to donate? Is there some other way to help out? It would make me really happy to do more. Thank you again for this gift.

        Reply
  10. Gretchen

    Hi Mike,
    Goofy idea: how about Dewy for the middle chick? It’s a pun on “due” – Italian for two – and also a joke about being an innocent at the beginning of life.

    Reply
    • Mike

      Sorry I didn’t respond before. “Dewey” is also the name of a robot in the film “Silent Running” which really shook me up as a kid. All plant life on Earth is reduced to several pods in space, and then the program is defunded. I advocated for Dewy playfully on the group chat… shall we revive the question? A poll perhaps?

      Reply
  11. Gretchen

    By the way, please let the folks who are suggesting cutting the overhanging rose canes know that they afford some protection, and definitely shouldn’t be pruned back for our viewing ease (as much as I want to watch 24/7)!

    Reply
    • Mike

      I agree. It’s not much, but it’s the habitat they chose to nest in. Not to mention that it’s not my rose!

      Reply
  12. Gretchen Lang

    Hi Mike! I’ve been watching daily, but not commenting in the chat because I don’t want to open a youtube account. Thank you for doing this – it is a joy in hard times.

    Do you archive the daily films? Last night I missed the rabbit feast, and it sounds like it was epic!

    Reply
    • Mike

      Hi Gretchen! Thanks for posting! The May 6 rabbit feast starts at 11:41pm. It’s quite something. I have fixed the encoding issue so you can now scrub back through old live feeds. 🙂

      Reply
      • Gretchen

        Thank you, Mike!

        Reply
  13. Miriam Eckert

    I’d like to give a big thank you to the home owner for allowing the camera on his balcony. I hope they know it’s much appreciated by everyone here. And of course thanks to Mike for setting it up and maintaining it.

    Reply
  14. John Severson

    Mike, we have a few photos of Lady Bird holding her snake upon return to the nest. We’d be happy to share them if you would like!

    Reply
    • Mike

      I’ll post them! chat – @ – redtin…. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Bev

    Hi, I would comment in the chat window but it looks like I would have to have a youtube channel to do that? If there’s a way to do it without an account, I’m all ears!

    The snake that mom brought in was a bull snake. I actually only saw the tail of what probably had been a fairly sizeable snake – it looked to me like she didn’t bring the whole thing. Also if you watch closely once she started eating it, I saw her drop the last few inches on the edge of the planter and it slipped off! Then she pecked under the edge of the planter, seemingly looking for it. I was glad to see the male bring the mouse after that, since she and the chicks need those calories!

    Thank you for the camera and for caring so much about the welfare of these owls.

    Reply
  16. Robin

    When you back up the cam to earlier today, what is the feathery bird (?) and bright yellow coloring near the front of the bin. I thought it may be a baby, but it didn’t move. Is it a dead bird she caught & she’s saving for dinner?

    BTW….my husband and I have greatly enjoyed watching Lady Bird….thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Bev

      Last night she brought in what looked like a western meadowlark – the bright yellow on the remains is consistent with that species.

      Reply
      • Bev

        Or was the meadowlark night before last? It’s running together… I can’t blame stay-at-home brain, more like slightly foggy brain from up late watching nest cams while streaming free SiriusXM 🙂

        Reply
        • Mike

          I think it was night before last. But I agree… snakes and meadowlarks and hubby owl and camera jolts all happened fast and furious. 🙂

          Reply
    • Barbara Laing

      Please let me know about the live feed idea. Without Lady Bird and the owlets the past weeks would have been unbear a bly bleak. Thank you so much!

      Reply
  17. Mike

    From YouTube chat…

    Sentient Publications
    ​Questions I would have for an ornithologist:

    Sentient Publications
    ​1) Why do you think she chose this spot for her nest? Do you think that the current quarantine conditions had anything to do with her feeling comfortable in such a human-inhabited place?

    Sentient Publications
    ​2) What do you think happened to Dad?

    Sentient Publications
    ​3) I’ve observed her prodding the owlets with her talons when she returns to the nest after a hunt. What’s this for?

    Sentient Publications
    ​4) I’ve read that juvenile Great Horned owls have only a 50% chance of survival into adulthood. Do think the odds will be better or worse for these three? (I hope it’s better!)

    Reply
  18. Dowitcher

    Just found this site: when did chick pip/hatch?

    Reply
    • Mike

      First one the night of April 29, I believe. Second one shortly thereafter. Which is atypical for these owls. The eggs were laid several days apart and apparently they typically hatch that way too. It may have been that she heated them up at the same time, so they hatched closer than they were laid. Not an ornithologist, so this is just from googling. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
      • Ally

        3rd one just now as I was watching!! Amazing…

        Reply
  19. Charmaine Kleiber

    Great explanations and comments. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    Reply
  20. Cameron Brooks

    Hi all. First of all, thanks so much for doing this! It’s been fun to watch her. We have an old ipad set up with her on it 24/7. In our house, we did start calling her Lady Bird just because, well, she’s a lady bird. That prompted our daughter to start calling her Saoirse, in honor of the lead role from the movie (one of the favorites in our house). As it turns out, Saoirse’s middle name is Una, so that was the inspiration for the first chick name.

    Reply
    • marika laing

      Kismet! Gotta love a cosmic coincidence. Lady Bird and Una are great company in the background at my home both soothing and exciting.

      Reply
  21. marika laing

    Hi Mike,
    I feel like it’s time to give her a name. Maybe some of the teachers and students would like to make a few suggestions?
    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR DOING THIS AWESOME PROJECT! You rock!
    Best,
    Marika

    Reply
    • Mike

      Hi Marika! A young watcher suggested “Lady Bird” for the mom, and “Una” for the first-born. Gotta say I love it!

      Reply
      • marika laing

        Oh my goodness, Lady Bird is perfect!

        Reply
  22. Bev

    Hi, I’m wondering whether the nest location will be getting any shade from trees or shrubs leafing out, or if there is a way to give it some shade without disrupting the owls. Mom looks hot, I’ve noticed her panting and fluttering her throat (gular fluttering) which they do to cool down. She’s doing it now. Not that birds don’t put up with weather extremes all the time, but most great horned owl nests have some shade. Wonder if it’s her first nesting season, since she seems to have chosen an odd spot!

    Reply
    • Mike

      Hi Bev! A lot of folks have expressed the same concern. I reached out to an ornithologist at CARRI (Colorado Avian Research and Rehabilitation Institute) and his experience has been that lots of owls take over full-sun nests… tree-top Hawk’s nests, for example. He said both the moms and chicks are tough and that we should expect to see some “tough love” in the weeks ahead! I have invited him to field our questions and we’re sorting out the details. Another ornithologist watching did make the point that young couples do make mistakes and get better at this season after season. So I suppose we also have to steal ourselves for potential mishaps, and perhaps explain to younger viewers that this isn’t a Disney movie. One further point… apparently the male selects the nest site and then entices the female to accept it. So there will be blame to share if things go south… Thanks for posting and don’t stop! The comments in live chat are wonderful but make it harder to share knowledge more broadly.

      Reply
  23. Eleanor

    Ah yes, I don’t watch all the time but when I do I was wondering if Mr. Owl stopped by to feed the lady?
    I think it’s a Great Horned Owl.
    What a precious thing to share!
    Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Mike

      You are correct, Eleanor! 🙂 Someone thought they had identified the subspecies, but I can’t find it on this list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_horned_owl#Subspecies. Regarding Mr. Owl… there is definitely some conversation that’s occurring at night between whomever’s on the nest and another owl. One night, each time I opened a door (in another part of the house), an owl would hoot! And the one on camera would occasionally murmur back. So I do think it’s a couple, but they’ve never been on camera together. Thank YOU for sharing… it’s been a fun project!

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Mike Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This