Mason County News
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Bat Cave Report
2011 Texas Nature Conservancy Steward
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 • Posted September 14, 2011

When my grandson, Jordan, was very young I would read a book to him about a little train that couldn’t get up a hill despite repeated attempts. The little train did not give up trying and finally succeeded at it. This last week at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve I was given inspiration to write a book. It wasn’t about a little train that couldn’t, it was about a little great horned owl named Otis that WOULDN’T! Otis had tried on two different occasions to catch bats in the last two weeks since he showed up at the Preserve. These attempts left him on his back on the ground after following bats into a tree. Both times this happened he did succeed in catching bats, but obviously the humiliation of it all forced him to abort any other efforts at catching bats. I guess that is not an absolutely truthful statement. I think that I should have said that he quit trying to catch bats except those that his sister, Olivia, had already caught and was trying to eat. Olivia is a tremendous hunter. She watches diligently and then swoops in and almost always flies out of the emergence with a bat. She quickly takes it to the nearest tree and proceeds to start to eat it. Otis watches her with all intensity and quickly flies where she lands and begins to fight her for the tiny mammal. At one point in his aggressive sibling rivalry, he tore a wing feather from his sister’s wing. Time after time he attacked her after her catch and proceeded to become the victor over the meal. Why he never exerted this much effort to catch his own bat is beyond me!! If he thought that hitting a tree and smashing to the ground trying to catch a bat was demoralizing, he has no idea how crude he looks attacking his sister in a small tree. The limbs could barely hold both of them. The attacks are clumsy and they leave the spectators in disbelief at the unfolding awkwardness displayed by this young owl. Otis fans are not in the majority. All hearts go out to dear Olivia for her persistence at fending off her mooching brother. You really must see this to believe it!! Speaking of...come visit. You can call the bat hotline for any information you may need at 325-347-5970. Don’t forget that Saturday, September 17th is the final Early Morning Return viewing for this season. Call to make reservations for this event. Be like the little train and not dear Otis when making your plans....See ya at the cave!!

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