By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
This time of year a family living in north Oklahoma City are hosts to very special flock of feathered visitors that inhabit their second story planter box.
The Click family, Jeff, a commercial real estate developer, his wife Deziray, a physician assistant, and their two daughters, Alessondra (8) and Giavauna (3) are joined each spring by a Great Horned Owl couple they call Mr. and Mrs. T.
Alessondra has named them the Tiger family. This fascinating parliament of owls has visited the Clicks’ home for the past 5 years.
In the beginning, Jeff set up a camera to stream video so that Alessondra and the rest of the family could view the owls and their babies on a site called Ustream.
“This began as a way to give our older daughter a close-up view of an owl nest that fortunately was made at our house,” Jeff said.
Now, the family shares their experience with over 4 million viewers. Observers enjoy seeing the Tiger family from the time the eggs are laid until the owlets fledge after about 10 weeks.
The Tiger family can be viewed through the OKC Owl Cam live now at www.ustream.tv/OKCOwlCam.
Alessondra named the owls Mr. and Mrs. T because she thought their feathers resembled tiger stripes. She later learned that Native Americans often refer to Great Horned Owls as “The Flying Tiger”.
Mrs. T has laid eggs every year for five years, but she didn’t brood the first two years. This is the third consecutive year she has successfully brooded, or nestled on her eggs to hatch them.
In January three owlets, Saber, Amur (Amuracle), and Bengal were born. Owlets from previous years were named Tiger Lily, Tigris and Teegra, all in keeping with the Tiger theme. Bengal was first to fledge last week during the early morning hours.
Jeff said, “As homeschooling parents who believe every experience in life has educational value, we’ve set up cameras to help give our daughters a better view of the entire experience, and we happily welcome the rest of the world to join us.”
Click’s set up features several cameras focused on the Tiger family with the ability to zoom, to view more than one angle at a time, and lighting for night owl Tiger family fans.
“The information you find here is a culmination of what we’ve learned over the past few years, along with numerous contributions from viewers, our chat moderators, and people very knowledgeable about owls or birds in general,” Jeff said.
The room just inside the windows over the nest is what the Clicks call their theater room.
“While the Tiger Family is nesting, we lock the doors to the room and restrict access to it, limiting it to only essential trips to the tech closet to reboot the camera server, or, if Mrs. Tiger is off the nest, Alessondra and Giavauna can come up to catch a close-up, real-life view of the nest.”
Through the OKC Owl Cam, viewers get to see a mother and father owl providing food for their young babies as they grow and hopefully someday become parents with families of their own.
But some people aren’t always so fortunate.
After volunteering with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s Back Pack for Kids program, Alessondra said, “It made me feel sad to think that one out of four kids in Oklahoma don’t have enough food.”
Realizing the potential the attention the Tiger family was getting offered, Alessondra created the “Give A Hoot About Hunger” campaign.
“I thought we could sponsor the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma through the Owl Cam. Because lots of people watch it, we would be able to give a lot of money to the Food Bank. And I really wanted to do it because I like helping people,’ she said.
One in six Oklahomans has inconsistent access to food, and one in four children is considered hungry. Every $1 donated to the Regional Food Bank will provide 5 meals to hungry Oklahomans in need.
“I hope you’ll help me and my parents raise money for the Food Bank and help give a ‘Hoot’ about hunger,” Alesondra said.
To donate and to learn more, visit www.ustream.tv/okcowlcam.