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?

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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.

Spreading the Resistance: Another Quick Resident

Although not a record (site 9 = 3 days)I do have a report of another quick resident owl taking up. It took about 15 days, I installed the box November 21st 2015 and then got this note in December, the owl was seen Dec 6th in Massachusetts

Shortly before Thanksgiving the box was installed.
December 6th something bright caught my eye. I was very excited but then thought it was an orange oak leaf that had caught on the box.
In fact, it was an adult Screech Owl checking things out from the hole in the box. I haven’t seen her recently but she or someone else was very active outside my window late last night.
We are delighted. I hope she stays and invites someone to live with her.
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Thank you much for the update, and congrats on the owl!

More Owls Still No Points

…for me. I have seen a couple more barred owls, one by myself on a walk the other more frustrating one on a family walk. I saw it flying and land still over 100 feet away. I got my camera out and had it in the sight but the focus was off, instead of snapping a picture, I went for the re-focus, but it flew away and all I was left with was some pictures of empty blurry branches! Alas no one else saw it so no point! Today I did find a great horned on a lunch walk, which is a given no point, but it was fun to find regardless. I don’t think it is the same one as last year with an eye wound, but it was in the same area. If it is the same one as last year the injury healed well.

great horned owl roosting some 50-60 feet up in a pitch pine
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First Point

I have seen 4 owls since this years owling challenge has started.   However, none of these earned me any points upon further review. I was either by myself on a walk (1 barred, 1 great horned) or never could get photo documentation (2 barreds that flew across the road). The first point was awarded for a snowy owl that my wife sighted on a family dune walk as her first owl (and our first snowy owl) of the season. I am thinking of filing an official protest to the rules committee!  Anyway, for the time being, she is up 1 point to 0 but there is a long season left.

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Added Link: Long-eared Owl Banding

The main target for fall migration owl banding seems to be the saw-whet owl. There are many stations through out Canada and the U.S that target the these little owls for banding. Usually with a mist nest and an ‘audio lure’ (a recording of the owls call that is on a continuous playback) to attract them. Sometimes other owl species are caught as well during these banding sessions, such as the long-eared owl. So up at the Hilliardton Marsh wildlife area in northeastern Ontario they decided to set up an area to target long-eared owls with good success. Kudos and hopefully this type of effort will continue! The link has been added to the link section of the blog for future reference.

More Owl Returns

Site 9

Note from owner:

She has settled in nicely and has been there everyday since Sunday October 18. On Sunday morning she was not in the box. Around 12 noon I saw something fly by and low and behold it was the female owl back in the slot in her box! This is the first time that I have ever seen the Owls fly in other than early in the morning. We have a resident Coopers Hawk who has been frequenting our bird feeder so this may be the reason she couldn’t get back in her box. When she flies out at around 6:10 pm she flies into our back wetlands and is vocalizing with another owl! We are looking forward to another fun owl season!

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3rd Year of Good Snowy Owling !!???

There are some early indication that the winter of 2015-2016 could be yet another good ‘irruption’ year.  Starting with the eastern seaboard record setting winter of 2013-2014. Last winter 2014-2015 was above average with snowy owls but sightings got tougher as the record snows came a the end of January. This year Wisconsin seems to be early snowy owl migration central.    http://www.jsonline.com/sports/outdoors/snowy-owls-fly-south-for-the-fall-b99601193z1-335411881.html       As this article attests.   Who knows how this will translate along the eastern seaboard, as the irruption could be targeted in the great lakes region, but hopefully it will at least mean another above average year for the northeast.

Owling Challenge Last and This Years

Last years Owling Challenge between my wife and me ended in a tie, it was 3 to 3 going into mid winter, then the snows just kept going and it wasn’t really possible to walk with a 3 foot plus snow pack for the rest of the winter.

This years Owling Challenge has started and so far neither of us has earned a point. I have seen 2 owls in the last 3 days, first was a barred owl that the flew across the road as I was driving our kids home from school, alas no photo, no one else saw it, or so they say (they may be in the tank for their mom) so NO point. Then today it was a great horned owl I found (with the help of some blue jays and other irritated song birds) as I took a quick stroll at some trails that are right on my way home from work. But since I was alone, the strict judging criteria of the challenge means NO point. But I did get a quick shot in the fading light.
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