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Everybody’s Watching Molly, the San Diego Owl, Hatch Her Family

Unbeknownst to Molly, a young barn owl mother, about 2 million people are scrutinizing her egg-sitting, feeding and every move, day and night, asking questions and offering critiques about every 30 seconds. Since January, when Molly moved into a backyard owl box in San Marcos, CA, the box’s landlords started adding progressively more advanced photo equipment, culminating in the live streaming camera at Ustream, which has had about 2 million views.

Viewers won’t be disappointed. Molly fusses over her eggs–and now two chicks–like a Park Slope parent. She incessantly gets up to rearrange herself, providing a glimpse of the chicks. Her mate arrives just after sunset with dinner–once a whole rabbit. 

A retired couple, Carlos and Donna Royal, have been waiting for just such a visitor for years. “We have a very eco-friendly backyard; we live on an acre lot with lots of trees and plants for wildlife,” they say in their Ustream profile. “We have had kestrels, bluebirds, hummingbirds, phoebes, wild ducks, killdeer and mockingbirds all nest and raise their young in our habitat. We do not have any cats or dogs to disturb the wildlife.”

Carlos, a former real estate broker,  told the San Diego Union-Tribune that they put up the house two years ago, but got no tenants. Then in January a neighbor asked if they heard the owls screeching in a storm. With the help of their teenage grandson, they added a camera on the outside of the box, then an infrared camera and hooked it up to the internet. (Since Ustream is free, the whole arrangement probably only costs a less than $300.)

The Royals, who had a casual backyard blog Birds R Us before Molly, are clearly having a good time with their owl family. Back when Molly was a just a smalltime internet spectacle with 33,000 fans, they declared her “the most famous barn owl in the world.” They sell Molly Merchandise. They’ve changed their blog profile to suit Molly. The author’s occupation is listed as laying eggs, her favorite movie: The Birds.


Live TV : Ustream

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