Mason County News
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Bat Cave Report
2011 Texas nature Conservancy Steward
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 • Posted September 28, 2011

Learning Makes a Man Fit Company for Himself.—Young.

The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve is the perfect environment for learning about life’s little lessons. Sitting quietly as the day fades into darkness a person can eaves drop on birds saying their last good nights to their mates; hear the flapping of the wings of the bats as they head out into the evening; smell the pungent odor of the guano that follows the bats out of the cave; and see the evident struggle for life as predators stalk their prey.The sibling rivalry between our two juvenile great horned owls, Olivia and Otis, has taught me some very valuable lessons. When these two first showed up at the cave in late August, they were dependent in some ways on one another. They must have just been booted from the nest and “given” their independence. Sometimes that independence comes at a price. Sure, they could now do pretty much what they wanted to do, but the cost of fending for themselves left them with little energy to soar to great heights. Their constant calling to one another bolstered their confidence to some degree, but in some ways left the burden of the hunt on Olivia. Otis’s pitiful screams of hunger sent Olivia to him with bat after bat. It seems that Otis preferred to be a spoiled teenager and refused to progress in his hunting skills. Olivia would faithfully feed him out of her plunder and he continued week after week to be content with allowing this to happen. Certainly his feeble attempts at hunting had left him on his back after smashing into a tree, but he never seemed to want to develop into the excellent hunter that his sister had become. When she decided that enough was enough and left Otis to fend for himself, he would swoop in and steal her bats that she had worked so hard to catch. He became more and more aggressive in his stealing, at times even ripping wing feathers from dear Olivia. Again, time forced more severe measures to be imposed on this ungrateful sibling as Olivia seems to have banished Otis from the feast. There are no cries in plea for a meal from Otis; no savage pouncing on Olivia as she sits in a tree to eat her tasty little meal, no, all is quiet in regard to Otis. The whole learning curve here is quite simple. Sometimes a helpful shove out of the “nest” by parents is a very good and healthy thing. There are times that one heading out on his/her own needs reassuring. That reassuring however does not mean that one should be made totally reliant on another for his/her livelihood. There should always be a give and take in any relationship, not just take, take, take. Needless to say, the “give” in this should not be the giving of grief….it should be appreciative and in kind to the situation. One should also know that by expecting these things in a relationship, it allows both parties to grow and be healthy in lifeYes, the saga of Otis and Olivia has been a true learning experience for me. Because of Olivia’s banishment of Otis, I think that somewhere out there, Otis will thrive and become a healthy great horned owl adult. I also believe that Olivia will fly high and feel secure to meet whatever lies ahead for her. She will be content knowing that she did what she could and finally what she had to. Life sometimes seems harsh, but oh, the outcome….sweet victory for all! Thank you Olivia for a life lesson well taught!The bats are still flying at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve.

Call the bat hotline @325-347-5970 for information needed for your visit. See ya at the cave!!

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