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Barn Owl Couple Returns to Nesting Box at Water Conservation Garden

Hoot and Holla have returned at nearly the same time that they first took up residence last year, with Holla reclaiming the owl nesting box on Feb. 10, and laying her first egg on Feb. 17, the exact same date she laid her first egg in 2011.

The made the following announcement on March 1, 2012:

Hoot and Holla, the mated at The Garden last year and raised a family of four owlets, have returned.  Garden staff has been monitoring the owl box through an infrared owlcam for the last few weeks, in hopes of seeing the pair return to begin a new family. 

To the delight of all on staff, the owls returned at nearly the same time that they first took up residence last year, with Holla reclaiming the owl nesting box on Feb. 10, and laying her first egg on Feb. 17, the exact same date she laid her first egg in 2011.

"There are a couple of ways that we can be certain that the pair of owls we are seeing are Hoot and Holla from last year, even though these wild owls are not tagged,” said Pam Meisner, The Garden’s education specialist and guiding force behind the owlcam.  “Barn owls are very territorial, and typically mate for life.  Once they have claimed an owl nesting box as their own, other owls will not use it, and the original residents, if they survive, will return to the same box annually.  This, and the fact that the female owl we are seeing has arrived and laid eggs on nearly the same schedule as last year’s owl is a good indication that it is Holla, with Hoot likely nearby.”

As of today, the owls can be viewed by the public 24-hours a day at the Garden’s website, where the owlcam feeds live streaming video.  The public can expect to see Holla, the female owl, the majority of the time as she incubates her eggs, with Hoot, the male, appearing intermittently to deliver fresh prey.  Hoot’s hunting helps to naturally control a seemingly inexorable rabbit population that nibbles on Garden exhibits.  

As it did last year, the Garden will offer the public several opportunities to learn more about Hoot and Holla, and barn owls in general.  The Garden’s “Owlblog” will feature barn owl facts and photos, plus daily updates about the birds’ activities. 

Visitors to The Garden can view the owls through a monitor that will be accessible during the Garden’s regular operating hours of 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 7 days a week, within close proximity to the actual nesting box.  And, "Ms. Smarty Plants" (Meisner) will present an owl education program, Ms. Smarty Plants Gives a Hoot, at 10 a.m. in the Garden’s amphitheater, during the Spring Garden Festival on Saturday, April 28. 

Another great time for visitors to stop by The Garden to see the owls, is during March, when The Garden will host its “March is for Members” event that features free plant presentations (March 10 and 17) and a 20 percent discount on plants in The Garden’s nursery all month long for members or those who become members.  

For more information about the presentations, visit The Garden’s education calendar at www.thegarden.org/calendar .

The Garden is grateful to Tom Stephan of Air Superiority for donating and installing the owl box, and NetroMedia and Blacks Design, Inc. for helping to make the live video stream on our website possible. 

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