I was a bit negligent on last years owl challenge update, which I won, 4 points to 0. They were all snowy owls. I guess all the off season training payed off as it was a tough defeat for me the year before. So for the record, 1 challenge for my wife and 1 for me.
That brings us to this year, well since we saw an owl today the 2014-15 owl challenge has begun and my wife gets the first point. She found this Barred owl road side from the car. Looks like it might be a young of the year owl and hunting mid-day. Good way to start and Let the games begin!
Four owlets here are getting ready to fledge any day now, as they peer into the big wide outside world.
The mom keeps close watch from near by. The Dad remains oh so elusive!
The old site 9 had to be taken down, due to a move. It had the old record of screech owl occupancy of 12 days after installation. Its seems fitting that I am able to ‘replace’ site 9 with the box that beat that record. It took less than 3 days after installation to get a screech owl occupant. And even better, they are nesting and have owlets that are getting close to fledging. So here is a summary of the season so far. The reports below are from the owner, and provide a brief (selected) summary of this nesting season so far. anyway WELL DONE!
female only pops up 30 seconds here and there mostly down! Now she flies out- then the male and then she flies back in box 10 minutes or so later! This behavior started slowly by being down but now I,think we may have eggs in there
what a site we just saw!
Female flew out and then the male flew over to the tree branch waiting for her to return with a big frog hanging out of his mouth! She flew back in her box 3 minutes later – she went down in the box and then he dropped off his catch! Was amazing to see this huge frog !
We may have owlettes – tonight we had a change of activity and I think that we may have babies- it is around 27 days of the same behavior- she flies out for and few minutes and the male comes to feed but tonight he was going in and out over and over and she flew out for 1 minute and then back – male back and forth and she flew out again 30 seconds! I don’t know how to know if there are babies
the pair from March 12th
This family has move on, but I did get a final tally of 4 owlets fledged. They seem to be doing well. As usual this family follows a very similar path through the trees as previous years so it allows for some nice family photos before they ‘disappear’.
The rest of the family in a near by Yew.
At Site 1.
Looks like 3 owlets fledged, most likely between 5/9 and 5/10. Traveling the same general path through the trees as they had previously when they had nested in the other box.
Three owlets in a yew, the typical early fledged roost.
The female here decided to nest elsewhere but it was in ‘his’ box. In all the years (since 2010) I have never seen the female in this box, but it seems last minute she decide to give it a try and nest here, I have a feeling its at least in part due to the failed nesting last year in the slot style box. But its nice to know all is well, as an owlet made an appearance this afternoon. No camera in this box, so we’ll have to wait to get a count. But fledging should be with-in a week.
Brian from central PA:
…. We put ours up about a year and a half ago and just got our first resident. After a few months we almost wished the squirrel proofing was less effective so that at least something would use the box but time wins out and now we have an owl. We probably could have had better placement but were trying to keep the box in a place where we could see it….
THanks for the update! and excellent photo!
Update from the owner
At about 6:10 the red owl arrived in the yard. It perched in two different spots. Then it entered the slot box. It dropped out of sight and reappeared. The red owl then flew to a perch opposite the round hole box. It soon returned to the slot box which had a grey owl perched in the entrance. Both owls were briefly together at the entrance of the slot box. The grey dropped inside first, followed by the red. All this took place within a span of about 5 minutes. I will let you know it the owls reappear or have left while I ‘ve been writing this to you….
I was afraid the pair might have skeedadled while I was writing the email this morning, because they had disappeared. The red owl reappeared later on, but I couldn’t account for the gray until now when the pair came up to sun themselves. This is the first time I’ve seen two owls side-by-side in the same box! The last time I had side-by-side owls was during the last years of our apple tree, about 14 years ago.
Excellent update! thanks!
I haven’t seen the pair of barred owl that were near by in over a month. My thinking was that they decided to head back to a better breeding territory. Today when checking one of the frequently used (previously) roost, voila an owl, but it became quickly apparent that it wasn’t a barred, it was a great horned, in the exact spot a (the first) barred had used for the first 2/3 of winter. However, it decided to flush the moment I stopped walking (I was on a sidewalk). The crows had a field day, and the owl imbedded itself into a nearby white cedar. Lots of danger and competition for the near by screech owls around every corner! Who knows if it will stick around.
A bit of a change here for the last week, all winter including late the female (gray) was very regular in the slot entrance box. At the end of February there were lots of mice being stored with her in the box. Then a few days into March, she stopped coming in to this box, and slowly the mice storage stopped as well. Now the Male (red) is a regular. So does this mean she decided ‘last minute’ to nest elsewhere? Currently I am leaning that direction. Last years failed nesting attempt maybe had her consider her other options. In the past she has laid eggs 2nd-3rd week in February. Last year (that failed) I estimated the egg laying +/- March 17th. So given her history, and this years seemingly abundant prey, based on the food that was stored…upto 4-5 mice at a time…it would be right on schedule if she was incubating now.
The good news, is that the male is using the box, which would seem to indicate the alternative cavity should be close by. There are a couple of options, one is ‘his’ box about 150 feet away, while I have never seen her in this box, it is a potential option. The other is a new (as of last summer) flicker cavity. Or perhaps a yet to be discovered place.
There is a chance she disappeared, but hopefully she just relocated.
For the last week,
only the male has been in the box that has previously been used as a nest
What is nice, was that it was a pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks, They may have been just passing through, but hopefully they will stick around. No Screech owls, but some activity to summarize since its been a long time since a update here. Barred owls were around all summer and fall and heard almost daily even during the day. But since the cold weather has moved in, its been tough to say if they are still around since its harder to hear them.
Also the leucistic hawk was seen briefly a couple times in January 2014. So brief though that no photo documentation was taken.
So it seems the Red phase that showed up briefly back in October was just passing through, likely got driven out of the resident pair of gray phase owls. These are tough to get a handle on, but I am almost sure that I have seen both the male and the female through the winter. This pair seems exceptionally shy as they are tough to get documentation. Luckily my wife got one of what appears to be the same female as last year.
I installed a box in Rockport MA, Sunday (2/23/14) around 2:00pm. On Wednesday around 5:00 pm I got a call that said they had an screech owl already! Figure the owl arrived early morning on Wednesday, thats less than 72 hours after box installation. That beats out the old record of 12 days by 9 days. Quite extraordinary and certainly not expected, as sometimes it takes years (if at all) to get a screech owl resident. Now to make it even more remarkable, Thursday (today) a pair of owls spent the day in the box! If they all could be this easy!
if you look closely a red phase to the right and a grey phase a bit recessed in the shadow to the left.
First note comes from Atlanta GA,
I finally had the box installed this past weekend, in between the two winter storms that visited Atlanta; I had initially intended to do it myself, but I quickly found out that there was no way I could get up 20 feet on a ladder holding the box and fastening it to the tree. So I called a tree service and they did a fine job. I will keep you updated on future tenants!
Thanks for the update, looks like a well placed box and a tree service is an excellent idea for safe installation!
Second note comes from Brown Mills NJ,
I ordered a Screech Owl box from you a couple years ago. Up til today the only thing that has gotten in the box has been wasps to my knowledge. Up til today? Yep…a red Screech Owl has hopefully taken up residence and I couldn’t be more excited! It really made my day (week!) to see something in that slot when I looked this morning. I check it every day. As I said in the past, I’ve heard Screech Owls in the backyard and even saw one once but I certainly never thought one would grace my backyard in such a way.
I’m sending along a not so great picture. It was taken through the window at a good distance as I didn’t want to risk spooking the owl. As I type this, he’s sitting in the entrance watching what’s going on. It’s 5:25 and getting dark so I’m sure he’ll be hunting soon.
and a bit more follow up
Unfortunately we only saw it for 2 days. I can’t imagine where it went or what caused it to leave. I hope it will come back. It seemed quite content in there.
Thanks for the update, and hopefully it will be back soon!