Owl!

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Umbrian

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Owl!
« on: March 13, 2019, 08:05:30 AM »
Since reluctantly moving to a smaller house in a small town after many happy years in the Umbrian hills, I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of birds that frequent  the garden. This spring though I have been amazed to hear an owl calling at night close to the house. Perhaps not quite as surprising on reflection as we live in the shadow of a large church and cloister where there would be suitable nesting places I suppose. Last night it sounded very close but it was too cold to linger for long hoping for a sight.....hopefully it will nest and a sighting possible.
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

Pallas

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Re: Owl!
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2019, 02:23:25 PM »
Wonderful! I have been amazed by a pair of eagle owls, which I can hear calling and sometimes see perched on the neighbour's Norfolk pine or on an antenna. I have been hearing them calling and answering each other at least 4 years now. I find it  very comforting that even in cities, wildlife is (often) still there if we keep our eyes and ears open.
Small (300m2) south-facing garden on the outskirts of Málaga. RHS H2 / USDA 10b.

David Dickinson

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Re: Owl!
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2019, 11:55:22 PM »
A friend recently set up home just outside Rome and was amazed to catch an 'enormous' owl sitting at the side of the road in her headlights one evening. From the size description alone it was obvious it was an eagle owl she had seen. She later discovered that they nest in the village church which is on top of the hill. I used to watch them popping in and out of their nest on the pyramid in Saqqara when I lived in Egypt but I have never seen them in Italy. You can see and hear them here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gnzzMjbOpw  but you don't get an idea of their size. They are big.
I have a small garden in Rome, Italy. Some open soil, some concrete, some paved. Temperatures in winter occasionally down to 0°C. Summer temperatures up to 40°C in the shade. There are never watering restrictions but, of course, there is little natural water for much of June, July and August.

Pallas

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Re: Owl!
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2019, 12:27:44 PM »
They are indeed huge: wingspan of about 150cm and height up to 75cm. They glide silently in spite of their size.

I read that a significant food source for ones living near urban areas are cats  :o, but my two boys are quite big bruisers, so I think they are safe...
Small (300m2) south-facing garden on the outskirts of Málaga. RHS H2 / USDA 10b.

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Alisdair

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Re: Owl!
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2019, 08:51:41 AM »
A few years ago our member (and former General Secretary) Fleur Pavlidis was staying in a village in northern Greece where an eagle owl had made its nest in a very unwise place, and inevitably its chick fell out. The village priest rescued it and perched it high in a shade tree in the village square. Every day the priest climbed a ladder to feed it. In ancient Greek the eagle owl, far from wise, was called "bubo" which eventually became its scientific family name - in modern Greek it's become "bufo", which is still slang for silly. Fleur's kindly sent me these photos.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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John J

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Re: Owl!
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2019, 06:05:59 PM »
I've posted this photo of what I think is the same tree on the MGS Facebook page. It was in a small village that we passed through on the MGS Epirus trip led by Chris Gardner in May 2015. I'm almost certain that we stopped and bought ice creams, etc from a kiosk opposite and that was how I got the photo.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

Umbrian

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Re: Owl!
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2019, 08:07:19 AM »
Wonderful story and pictures Alisdair.
Still haven't caught sight of the one I hear but it calls most nights and am still hopeful. Meanwhile, the blackbirds that I have been feeding all winter, and that have a nest in the garden,  are now feeding young and wait impatiently every morning for me to appear with my offerings, approaching me as I open the door.
Another rewarding aspect of gardening.
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.