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Molly and McGee - the Two Most Popular Animals on the Internet

Right here in our own back yard of North San Diego, in a city called San Marcos, Carlos and Donna Royal have been sharing a special encounter with the world via a live streaming video.

Image: Liz Noffsinger /

About two years ago Carlos put up an owl box in his backyard. Soon, two wild Barn Owls named Molly and McGee made this owl box their home and have been documented ever since by a live video stream installed by their grandson Austin. On February 13th of this year, Molly laid her first egg with five more arriving over the next ten days in exactly two day increments. This extremely rare live footage shot around the internet igniting a huge fan base resulting in over twelve million hits from locations as far away as Japan and Europe.

Four of the six eggs hatched (egg #'s 2-5) and those new baby owls are named Max, Pattison, Austin, and Wesley. The eggs hatched in the order in which they were laid, and again, hatched every two days.

For "nature nerds" like myself it's a big deal because: (1) it's happening right here in San Marcos, California, and (2) the owl breeding habits are not otherwise captured from start to finish like this.

Carlos and Donna Royal are nature lovers like the rest of us who unassumingly put up an owl box then two years later, PRESTO! Baby owls!!! Just like that! Nature has a way of happening all by itself. Molly and McGee are nocturnal so for many people this is the only way to observe them in their natural habitat. We are called "Owl-coholics" because we stay up at night to watch and have become quite addicted to them!

Now you can watch the action right here on the official live video feed:

Right now (as of May 20, 2010), Max and Pattison are learning to fly, it's called Fledging. Everyone is GLUED to the screens every night to watch the little ones (well they are mostly full grown now) learn to walk out and learn to perch. They have been on a flat surface for all their lives and learning to wrap their talons around a round branch is a learning experience much like a human learning to walk. Molly sits outside the owl box on a perch close by and calls to them to get them to fly. It's AMAZING!!!

Owl Facts:

Owls mate for life
Wingspan is 30-43 inches
Most manage to breed only once in their life, falling victim to predators or accidents before being 2 years of age
Owls are important to our gardens because they are great scavengers of mice and rats
Their hearing is so acute that they can detect the location and direction of a mouse under leaves and in total darkness
Their fluffy plumage makes their flight nearly soundless

More Resources about Molly and McGee:

The whole documented timeline
Molly's Blog

This article was written by guest blogger Selena Kidder. Selena calls herself a nature nerd loving the great outdoors and animals in general. She went to college in Denver to become an Animal Health Technician at the Bel Rea Institute of Animal Technology, and does volunteer work with the San Diego Humane Society/North County Animal Shelter. Currently though, she works as an IT professional at a local golf company in Carlsbad. She can be reached via her blog, "I Can't Believe We're Hiking."

Here's a photo of Selena with Carlos Royal:

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