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.

 

Owing Challenge: 4 points 3 long-eared

After a slow mid-season things have definitely heated up owl wise!  The score was 3 points to 1 with my wife ahead.  On March 5th my wife and I were on walk at dusk, when she says she thinks she saw something fly…I thought ahh she  just saw a timberdoodle(aka woodcock) take off…But then I see a long eared owl hunting over a field/marsh. Upon review the owl sighting was declared a tie, 1 point for her 1 point for me.  But then my wife sees a second long-eared with the first and points it out to me. She gets 1 additional point.  I could only get an abstract silhouette of one of the owls as it landed in a tree briefly, in the dark conditions. But something is better than nothing, so at this point my wife is up 5 points to 2.

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Until yesterday afternoon, when we took advantage of a questionable snowday with a family walk at a different place. I saw a puffy silhouette of a distant form about 80 feet up in a white pine. My first thought was, knowing my luck it was probably a turkey, I got the camera trained on it, then maybe a great horned because of its seemingly large “poofiness” but decidedly an owl. Then oooh cool a long-eared. Goes to show that size perception can be fooled based upon conditions. Got a decent photo anyway, relatively  open roost. So now score is 5 points to 3. I don’t know if this is a sign of a long-eared population uptick, or just a bit of the law of averages working its self out?

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First Egg

Site 9

Looks like the first egg of the year for site 9.  Only one egg as of last night, I don’t know for sure what the other light/white things are, perhaps some non-viable eggs casings. Anyway it is nice to see!.

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Getting Prepared

There is a general thought that last year’s tough and snowy winter was tough on the owl population. Luckily a few sites are still active which means some screech owls survived and hopefully this nesting season will be very productive for screech owls.

Anyway the end of the month (March) is prime nesting season and we have a great update from the owner of Site 9.

Owl Update
The female continues to be in her box every day. We have seen a male in the
box who scratches up the shavings and throws them around and deposited a
large vole. We have not seen them in the box together. This is weekend last
year is when they roosted together- so far we have not seen them together.
She has been vocalizing before she flies but not as much as last year. So we
will just have to wait and see if the same male returns or she finds another
mate?

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Great update, thank you very much!!!

2 Barred Day: Challenge Check-in

So my wife was ahead in points 2-0 leading up today, both of her points were from snowy owls at the beach.  I have already reported on the first snowy owl point. The second snowy owl point we actually saw 2 snowies in total that morning back on December 15th. But only one of them counted towards the challenge because the first snowy owl of the morning was actually pointed out by a reservation staff.  The second snowy owl was indeed a good point for my wife as no one else was around and it was sitting on top of a dune.  P1100497
above first owl pointed out by staff= no point
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1 point owl(wife) much further down beach on top of dune, both from Dec 15th.

Fast forward until today as it has been fairly quiet recently in the owl sightings.  We took a family walk along some local horse trails as we were coming to a smallish field. We all noticed horses up ahead with their riders enjoying the mild weather and practicing their riding technique. Anyway, I had to make sure our dog (which we normally leave at home) was secure on the leash and made sure I would be the one in control as we walked by the horses. Since I was being distracted with the kids, dog and horses, my wife sneakily found and pointed out a roosting Barred Owl.  Now at that time I was down 3 points to zero.  Thats a tough deficit to overcome. But I will keep fighting to the end… On the drive home I was able to spot an actively hunting Barred Owl that was fairly close to the road and was able to use the car as a blind of sorts. Phew, I at least won’t get skunked this year owl-point wise. So as it stands now the score is: wife 3 points to 1 point, me.

P1110306 roosting barred owl.
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roadside hunting barred owl.

Spreading the Resistance: NJ

Got this nice note from NJ.

I am very excited to report that I had an owl in the box today! We put the owl box up just over 4 weeks ago, about 13′ high in an oak, south facing. We had cleared all of the lower branches in that tree and a few of the adjacent trees.

Here’s a picture of the grey Eastern Screech Owl. This is the first time I have seen a screech owl in the wild! I’ve heard one near my yard twice this past summer/fall (and once more about 10+ years ago), but wasn’t expecting to get one so soon.

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Thank you very much for reporting back! Congrats on the new perspective resident!

Unfathomable Gut Punch!

I try to keep this strictly as a log book of owl activity. But this is important enough to break from that idea.  For lack of words I will keep it short and to the point. For the last 6-7 years I have been getting all the wood for these owl boxes from a family owned lumber mill from the small town I grew up in. This good family is in need of some help as they are thrusted into an unfathomable situation.  If anyone is so inclined I though I might use this small blog to help a little by spreading the link. ugg.

Active in Maryland…Is it the Same Owl?

Site 5

Maryland has checked in with this report:

This owl behaved differently from our previous owl, Rosie (more active, head out further, etc.) but I, of course, couldn’t tell for sure. We finally got pics from our camera onto our computer so we thought we’d have you give it a look.

The first pic is our current owl.

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compare to the picture I took on a visit back in november 2012:
Looks to be the Same Owl as Last Year... which is a very dark red phased owl

Really tough to tell, very well could be the same owl. I guess that is they way I am leaning despite the more relaxed behavior.