Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why Baby Wesley should be ok.

Molly's littlest owlet is named Wesley, after Carlos' family members and my Wesley. What a coincidence, really.

I had thought that the baby might be able to grab scraps from the beaks of big brothers and sisters once they started ripping up the prey items, and it turns out he's doing just that very thing, with no protest from the siblings. Max seems to be a particularly mellow fellow, and doesn't fuss when little Wesley grabs a bite right out of his beak. While I'd be very surprised if Max were socially developed enough to feel a fatherly or motherly responsibility to feed Wesley (siblings compete for food), he is certainly affectionate and friendly with his siblings, and not overly competitive. I saw Wesley sleeping under Max's wing the other day. Max probably didn't care where Wesley was in the huddle, but the point is that Wesley was able to use MAX as a wing under which to feel safe.

In the same way, although Max may not be purposely feeding Wesley, the fact that he doesn't fight him allows Wesley to go ahead and act as if Max WAS feeding him, and just take the tidbits right out of Max's beak!

I had said that once the prey was "unzipped", Wesley could eat the insides much more easily, or eat a left over portion of bigger prey. Ie. he could swallow a partial gopher whole, once it's been partially eaten.

And finally, he will be ok because if he really were starving and weakening, people would go crazy with worry and the media would get involved and this little owlet would be the champion of a rescue rehab center somewhere, no doubt with his own paparazzi following his recovery, learning to hunt and fly, and finally, his release.

This little guy has no idea how many guardian angels he has! He has it better than any other owlet in the woods, so to speak. Even though they're not in the woods. ;-)

I was pondering today about the frantic worry and near meltdowns people have been having over the fate of these precious owls. Whenever you let your heart out to love someone so much, you are opening your heart to possible pain and disappointment. Does that mean to keep your heart closed? May it never be!

Another possibility is that it's very hard to feel like you cannot control anything about a situation. That's probably why some people are so terrified of flying - it's the not being able to control the situation that really scares them the most, I think. And with these owls, all we feel we can do is watch, and the helplessness of that gets to people.

We also tend to project our own issues onto the owls. If you feel afraid that you can't keep your own children safe from the big bad world, and if they're pulling away from you, becoming more independent, your emotions might be compounded by the situation w/ Molly and the baby Wesley. All your worst fears about your child, which you cannot verbalize, come to the surface and are focused on these owls. Then the emotion rises to the surface and seems overly strong. That's because it's not JUST about the owls. It's about your own feelings of loss of control and fears that you can't protect those you love.

This isn't always true, and I'm certainly not a psychiatrist or psychologist! But for some of us there may be a ring of truth to some of what i'm saying. We all subjugate our feelings to one degree or another just so we can keep producing, working, getting up in the morning and carrying on. Life is scary and if we think too hard about it we might just end up curled in a little ball under the bed crying for our mom, or for God, or for medication. ;-)

So we subjugate our feelings, push them down, and carry on. Then something that's a little safer to worry about comes along. It's safer to worry about these owls than it is to worry that your husband might get in a crash cuz he's driving drunk, or your daughter might get hurt running w/ the wrong crowd, or your kids are doing drugs or endangering themselves, or maybe just going off to college and you can't be there for them to protect them from everything.

Suddenly it's safe to express these emotions if it's about the owls, because it's not quite so close to home.

We even do this with movies - the emotions of the movie act as as catharsis for feelings that were already there for us.

Anyway it's worth pondering. I'm not saying we can't truly care about the owls for the owls' sake! But if we're having meltdowns and really freaking out, it's worth asking ourselves if there's more to it than that.

By saying this I hope I"m not taking away from our love for these owls. I'm not saying we can't possibly love these owls that much, becauase we can. WE have a deep seated desire to care for the animals of this planet - to be stewards and protectors of them. We have lost some of this instinct through becoming industrialized and i think some of us are getting back in touch with our role as stewards, rather than conquerors, of nature And that's a GOOD THING!


Here's a pic of Wesley taking food out of Max's beak today:


Margo said...

Stacey, doesn't Molly feel any kind of affection for the owlets still or has she just completely removed herself? We've talked a lot about emotions and stuff....and that they DO feel...so I guess I was wondering, does she still feel the affection even though she's out of the box? And do the owlets "miss" her or is it at a point of just functioning now?

Don't think I didn't read your post, I did....still a little confused.

Margo said...

So sorry to post again, but forgot an important question: Do you think that Carlos putting up the 'porch' while Molly was in the box had any effect on Molly's behavior?

Teresa said...

This was a great post. So many excellent points to ponder and a lot of truth to what you are saying. Molly and her family have given me a lot "escape time" in the last few weeks, when I could watch her care for her owlets and not let my own stresses take over my evenings. Now, it is easy to want to feel a little stressed out over this situation, but I am really feeling certain that Molly's maternal instinct is there and she will take care of her little ones.
I thought I saw Max feed Wesley today. I'm glad to know I really did!

parcae said...

Stacey, I'm really worried about Wesley. Do you think he's going to make it?

He is looking really disheveled and weak to me. He can't eat/swallow anything larger than a mouse and all the bigger owlets eat those first, as they're all really hungry by the time Molly and McGee show up.

He does not know how or cannot seem to get the hang of tearing foods larger than mice like Max and Pattison and even Austin can.

I'm aware that this is nature and owls all over are raising their families but my question is this. Since there are millions of people who're actively watching all this unfold, BY LAW, can people go in and try to save or at least feed Wesley more?

It hurts me to see little Wesley struggling like this!

Stacey O'Brien said...

I do think Molly feels affection for her babies. I've watched her intensity as she focuses on a baby swallowing a large mammal. It almost looks like concern. And she preens them and fusses over them and shares food with them even when she is hungry. I think she does feel for them. That doesn't mean that she fully understands how ready they are for her to be out of the box, however. I do think she lacks experience and may have left Wesley on his own too soon, instead focusing on the readiness of the other 3 owlets. This does happen sometimes. She and McGee are clearly bonded.

Both parents are very responsive to the begging sound and begin bringing food to the babies almost as soon as it gets dark.

I don't know if the owls miss her or if they're content cuddling with each other. I'm not sure. These are good questions!


Stacey O'Brien said...

Yes, if little Wesley starts to fail, by law wildlife people have the right to intervene and take him out of the nest and take him to a federal wildlife rehab center where he'll be foster raised by a barn owl, taught to hunt, allowed to strengthen until he's strong enough to make it in the wild, and then released. The owls literally belong to the federal government as surely as a national park belongs to the govt, so it does not matter whose land the owls are nested on.

If Wesley starts to fail, a wildlife federal agent will come in and take him. This person will be highly trained to do this without interfering w/ the other babies. If a lay person tries to mess with the babies, they will be in violation of the law and may face jail time and a 25,000 dollar fine. There is a limit to how far a private citizen can go in not reporting a sick or injured protected species, or in meddling w/ same species.

I hope it doesn't come to that, and that Wesley does thrive. Time will tell. That's all we can do is watch and wait.


Syl_Y said...

Stacey & others.
Thank you for putting into words what I feel while watching.
I've always had a deep respect for nature. These aren't children we are watching.
It's not the Disney channel.
It saddens me how lightly so take watching this family & the events.
I know it's human nature to make light of things that upset us.
It's a way of dealing. However, the lack of respect towards the happenings in the box bother me.
For days, people were glued to their computers hoping the last egg would hatch.
Once it became obvious it wouldn't, the jokes started.
They were horrified to hear the live rabbit kill, yet they joke about the prey laying there.
Call me a tree hugger if you like, but I have respect for the prey that keeps this family alive.
It frustrates me to no end that people with a realistic point of view aren't allowed to express that
in the main chat room.
I'm very concerned for Wesley. I just shake my head at the "pleasant" spin they put on it.
I'm hoping like everyone else that he will be ok. I can only imagine the chat rooms should something go wrong. I'm glad to know rescue would happen like it or not.
Thank you for sharing with us.
I'm glad others feel the same way.

Charlotte said...

yjtneStrong, deep, real. I love that you opened the door for each of us to reflect on our own process and emotion in the wake of Molly's new behavior. For some, this post may be confrontive, may stir something uncomfortable inside. I applaud you for diving below the surface. Strong emotions are always an opportunity to understand myself and others in a more meaningful way. I learn also when I have strong feelings in response to OTHERS strong feelings. It was ALL there yesterday in those chat rooms and in our hearts, wasn't it?

Stacey, do you ever get on the sportsman's paradise (molly) website chat? I've seen you a few times on the ustream chat but that one makes my head spin it's so fast. I can't keep up with it and wonder how people do! Is there a reason you prefer the ustream site over the sportsman's paradise feed?