The OwlCam owlets are assigned names and genders as soon as they hatch so that their unique stories can be followed. At the present time, however, there are only two ways to determine the gender of an owlet with certainty. The first is an invasive surgical procedure and the second is a DNA test. Measurements of the size of the owlet’s foot (female larger) can also offer a good, but not certain, assessment in the later stages of nesting. Because I will not allow Ward and June’s owlets to be exposed to humans in any way, none of these options is available to me. I do, however, have hundreds of hours of high quality recordings of the owlets wheezing from past years and am attempting to find differences that might indicate gender. This works for adults with the female having the higher voice and unique accents on some notes, but has never been attempted with owlets. While spectral plots of the owlet’s wheezes show differences that often allow me to recognize an individual; gender assignments should not be taken very seriously. The spectral plot below (Spectrogram) shows a graphic representation of Spencer' wheeze followed by Penelope's wheezes on May 5, 2002 when they were about four days old. While individuals show many variations, consistent differences usually emerge over time. Clicking the graphic will allow you to listen to the precise sound file that produced the spectrogram.
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