Strange ‘Normal’

Site 1 (near by)

Looks like a great horned owl has moved in a least for the day.  Very close to  where the barred owl in the last post had been roosting, and its not the first winter here that both great horned and barred owls have been using these urban woods to spend the winter. I am a bit confused as to why these urban woods are so ‘owly’ but it won’t stop me from enjoying it while it last. (No points for these owls towards the challenge.)

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Owl Riches

 

Site 8

Some places takes years for screech owls to come by, this site however, seem to be ideal for the owls as there frequently seems to be more than one pair vying for the boxes here. From the owner:

The first owl was a red morph –[ perhaps the returning female of last season?
It arrived on October 27th. This red individual returned to our slot box on the 28th The same day I saw another red owl roosting in a tree hollow near by. Since then, the first red owl has visited our boxes 3-4 times a week. While this individual has been a frequent visitor; it hasn’t been the only one. I have seen a grey individual with brownish feathers on its chest and a pale grey individual with less distinct field marks.
To date I can confirm the presence of four individual owls: 2 red and 2 grey. They have been seen in our yard and at two other places within a quarter mile of our house..
Cheers

PS.The bad news is that at least one squirrel has managed to get into the new box

Seems at least one of the squirrel here after a few years figure out how to navigate into these boxes, hopefully the new box will be difficult enough to prevent a full scale take over…the old box was gnawed (they will gnaw through the vinyl and wood) to the point it was no longer squirrel resistant.

 

Rules Committee

Over the offseason the owling challenge rules committee determined that an increase in scoring  would add more interest. Thus in a unanimous decision it decided to allow points for owls in previously used hollows; provided the hollows had been inactive owl wise for at least a season.  This decision has already made an impact. As I was able to pick up another point in a known roost. An owl was first seen here back in Dec. 2012, and was seen on and off into the early spring of 2013.  Since then, the hollow seemingly had gone inactive until this past Wednesday when something looked a bit off.  Turns out it was a very well camouflaged screech owl that was taking up part of the entrance.  I am up 2-0.

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2016 Challenge Begins

Well… last year I lost 5 points to 3 to my wife.  That bitter taste lasted all summer long, so I was very focused and intensified my offseason training to do better this year. So far the intense training has given me the quick lead in this years owling challenge.  Or perhaps she was distracted by collecting driftwood.  Either way the first point was earned with a snowy owl at a local beach.  It seems it may be the 4th winter in a row with at least better than average snowy owl sightings.  So I am up 1 point to 0 early in the game.

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More Returns

Site 9

Unfortunately last year this site’s nesting attempt failed, but this is a fresh season, so optimism returns. And now not only is there an in the box camera, but a new external camera too.  From the owner:

Hi ,
A red male appeared this morning and then a darker reddish morph came in and is there now! It appears to possibly be the pair we had before the last immature pair! This pair had 3 owlets fledge! We will keep you updated as we now have an outside camera too!

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More Activity

Site 8

Looks like another site has some owl activity. As we move into mid autumn and leaves leave the trees screech owls seek tree hollows. From the owner:

There have been hints that an owl (or owls) are nearby. This owl is the first I’ve seen in the new slot box that was put up just put up last week!

screech-owl-site8

I had to replace this box because while squirrel resistant, they are not gnaw proof, and a squirrel had gnawed enough of the covering to gain access and thus needed to replaced…more on this soon in a separate post…anyway its nice to see the owl activity.

New Owl and Site Modification

Site 3

Well I cleaned up Site 3 a bit. I replaced the owl box on a purple martin pole with a 4×4″ pole set up. It required 3, eight foot, 4″x4″ pressure treated poles, I dug the first eight footer in a couple feet (trying for at least three feet but the ground got inpeneratable about 2.5 feet down) like a fence post. The other 2 poles I connected together with four 1×4″s to make a 16 foot pole. Finally 2 bolts (top and bottom of post) to attach the 16 foot pole to the dug in ‘fence’ post. The whole set up should make the box easy to maintain and a bit sturdier. Then retro fitted the old circle entrance Squirrel Resistant box to a slot entrance and attached it to the 16 foot pole. Now there is only 1 owlbox at this site with one box camera…
Anyway the first owl of the season visited this new set up today. It’s a new red-phased owl, as last year the gray phased pair that had nested in the past, disappeared and did not nest here. So lets hope this owl sticks around!

new 4″x4″ pole set up with owl looking out
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box camera view
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The new red phase screech owl
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2016 breeding round up

It was another off year so not too much to report, both site 8 and site 5 (maryland) had successful nest, but I don’t think there was any quantification of the fledglings. Site 9 owls nested but it seemed that the male was too inexperienced and the nest was abandoned.  I have also discontinued a few sites for practical or management reasons.

Site 1
Massachusetts
No Nesting this year, no screech owls present at all for the first time since box has been up.

Site 2
Massachusetts
No screech owls…still(recent) calling of barred owls through out year.

Site 3
Massachusetts
Screech Owls: no nesting this year.

Site 4

Discontinued

Site 5
Maryland successful nesting but details lacking
Screech Owls,
Male= ?
Female=red phased
First Egg ???
# of Eggs…………. ??
First Hatch ???
# Hatched ………… at least 2
Fledged ……………. at least 2

Site 6
Massachusetts
No screech owls, great horned owl(s) still heard occ.

Site 7
Discontinued

Site 8
Massachusetts
Screech Owls, nesting occurred, lacking data.
Male= Gray phased (browner)
Female=Gray phased
First Egg …………?
# of Eggs…………?
First Hatch…………?
# Hatched …………?
Fledged ……………. ?

Site 9
Massachusetts
site 9 relocated 2014, Owl in Box with-in 3 days of installation (new record): after the 1rst year, a completely different pairing nested for 2015.
Screech Owls, nesting attempted, male seem to have trouble finding enough food, and would bring acorns in to nest (mistaken as prey?) female abandon nest, which failed.
Male= red phased
Female= gray phased
First Egg:……………..
# of Eggs……………. 4
First Hatch: …………..
# Hatched…………….0
Fledged ……………….0

2016 Totals:
screech owl eggs ……4 + (massachusetts) 2+ Maryland
screech owl fledged…..?+ (massachusetts)
?+ Maryland.

Nest Abandonment

Site 9

Unfortunately things sometimes go wrong in the wild. Such is the case at this site this year.  Four eggs were laid but it seems like the male was have trouble feeding the female enough food so she had to hunt for herself occasionally and eventually she must have given up on her brood and left altogether.

On March 24th

Unfortunately the female owl left her box in the afternoon and eventually came back after 7 pm. The male did not bring her food yesterday (and not much compared to the red male and the gray male ( different pair ) from the year before. This was the first time since Oct17 that she left her box and unfortunately she is not in the box this morning and we know with this cold the eggs will not survive. This may be a totally different pair or just a different male ( he is gray). We wanted to try and save the eggs but realize that this is nature! If we had an incubator lol! Today there is a food item in the box but compared to the attention and love that occurred between the last pair- these 2 never had a strong bond like the 2 other breeding pairs we had.

There has been some owl activity after this event, but nothing that would suggest a new nesting might occur just yet.  There is some hope as nesting season can run through April. And the ‘small eggs’ turned out to be acorns, and we did contact a local raptor rehabilitator she confirmed there is not much that can be done for ‘cold’ eggs and a specific wildlife permit would be needed to use an incubator with raptor eggs.