Notes/Obsvn.

Substitute Site 9

Site 9.

Site 9 did not have a nest this year but the owner had a friend that lives near by, who also got a box from me around the same time (4-5 years ago) had an owl pair and nest for the first time since installation.  Although it is far enough away to most likely be a completely different owl territory than site 9, it is close enough to use it as a substitute site 9 for this year…

from the owner of Site 9.

you installed a box for M. many years ago ( 4 or 5 ) looked out her window and found an owl peeking out! The male is close by and they are vocalizing together! M. is so happy! I will keep you posted and I will send you a little video she shared with me! I am going over to get photos this weekend…Sad our owls left on March 20 (original site 9) and set up house somewhere else ! We have no idea why but hear them in the back near the wetlands and I see the male flying out at night!
Anyway, here is a screen grab from the video of the 3 owlets that fledged from this substitute site.
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Wrapping up Site 3

Site 3.

All fledged here.  Total 4 owlets.
from 5/24…there were 2 owlets in the opening before I got the camera!
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5/26/2018 one sleeping owlet fledged, at least 2 were still in the box!
P1200346Found 4 owlets in a tree from 6/1/18. blurry low light photo of 3, the forth was just far enough away not to be the frame.

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How Did a Saw-Whet Owl Get its Name: Submitting Evidence?

One of the owl worlds ‘great’ mysteries (or not) is how did a saw-whet owl get its name. Of course there are answers: John J. Audubon wrote:

The Little Owl is known in Massachusetts by the name of the “Saw-whet,” the sound of its love-notes bearing a great resemblance to the noise produced by filing the teeth of a large saw.

and

I was much astonished to hear these sounds issuing from the interior of the grist-mill. The door having been locked, I had to go to my miller’s house close by, to inquire if any one was at work in it.

http://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/little-owl

The problem is there is disagreement among those that study these owls as to which of the many sound saw-whets make that is the actual call that gets its its name. I found this thesis online the outlines the discussion very well:

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is named for a “saw-whet” call, although there is dispute about which call this is, as Saw-whets make a variety of calls, and the literature is ambiguous as to which vocalization is the true “saw-whet” call. The call is said to be likened, however, to a saw being sharpened or “whetted” (Cannings 1993).
The first call that many people claim is the “saw-whet” call is an advertising call that consists of a repetitive series of notes pitched at 1100 Hz. This call is given at a rate of two calls per second and is made primarily by males although females will make a similar call during courtship. The female’s variant is much softer, however, and less consistent in both amplitude and pitch than that of their male counterparts. The male’s version of this call is very loud and can be heard 300 meters away in a forest and up to a kilometer away over water. Territorial males will respond to a recorded playback of this call with a softer, lower pitched version that is more rapid, at four to five notes per second (Cannings 1993).
The second call thought to be the “saw-whet” call is a nasally whine or wail. This call is produced at about the same pitch as the previous call, but lasts for two to three seconds. The pitch will change during the call as more harmonics are added, as will the volume (Cannings 1993).

The last vocalization suggested to be the Saw-whet’s namesake is probably the closest sounding call to the sound of a saw. It consists of a brief succession of loud calls that usually consists of three calls per series. This call is made by both sexes. This particular call has been described as a “ksew-ksew-ksew” call (Cannings 1993).

http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1170&context=honors

Like a lot of owlers I have heard both calls and then some, and none of them reminded me of a saw or anything else being filed or sharpened on a whetstone. So I went to youtube to see what I was missing, and much to my dismay after seeing lots of videos of how to sharpen things I still was left not finding a similar sound to the owl. Until I saw one with an antique treadle grinding(whet) stone. It wasn’t the sound of the actual grinding that made a sound that was similar, it was the harmonic squeak of metal on metal that suggested (with out much imagination) with the right speed and rhythm would do a very nice tooting imitation, this would also explain the sounds from the “gristmill” confusion in Audubon’s account too, as a rotating grain grinding wheel that needed lubricant may also produce a similar sound. Anyway here is the video: I would love to hear from others that may have more insight than me on the subject or other evidence one way or another.

Pictoral ‘Ode’ to “the Giving Tree”

Site 1

On site 1 there was a large dead pitch pine on a point that seemed to recruit birds, especially raptors,herons and egrets, although last year flickers at least attempted to nest in the trunk.  I affectionately referred to it as “the giving tree.” Well here in northeast Massachusetts we are in the mist of another storm, but the last storm blew the decaying tree completely over so it will no longer attract birds…All good things….So here are some photos I have gotten of the variety of birds over the years that have perched on the tree. Merlins especially used the tree, so added a few more pics of them.  It was an amazing tree!

great blue heron

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red-tailed hawk
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osprey
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great egret
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imm. black-crowned night heron
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peregrine falcon
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american kestrel
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next 3. merlin
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coopers hawk
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Imm. bald eagle
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Spreading the Resistance:the Kestrel Kind

Thrilled to say that an SQR box (circle entrance) has been successfully used and nested in by American Kestrels! They fledged 3 young this year. It all started back in 2013 someone backed out of a box order, I offered up the box to Phil Brown our Essex County Kestrel Trail operator (and of https://nebirdsplus.com ) he happily found a perfect spot for the box to integrate it into his project and 4 years later….A Kestrel nest! Kestrels are meadow/grassland birds, as such they have been declining in Massachusetts (and new england) so this project and its recent successes are very encouraging! Both of photos courtesy of Phil (used with permission) you can see his full documentation (scroll up or down for different years): https://massbird.org/ecoc/kestrel-nest-box-results/
mark20richey20kestrel20banding2007-12-1720800e

the SQR box in a tree with banding crew
mark20richey20kestrel20banding2007-12-1720800d

Early Visitor

Site 3

Well this is a surprize….I haven’t even finished all the reports from last season…But now Site 3 has had an unexpected owl visitor the past 2 days. Mostly screech owls return to hollows(boxes) in October (in the Northeast) as the leaves and temperature start to drop. Previously the earliest owl visitor was August 13 in 2011. So this beats that early visit by 2 weeks!

Anyway, as a wrap up from last year, this site had an owl very consistantly through January, but then the owl ‘stopped coming.’  So this most likely is a new owl trying to claim prime real estate.  Low light picture has a bit of blur from a slow shutter speed/hand shake.   Hopefully better ones to come.

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As the Winter Turns

Site 9

Sorry for being negligent on this site, but there has been quite a bit of drama here. So I will try to catch everyone up to this seasons story here. All quotes are from the owner.

Back on November 4th 2016.

Hi Everyone
THIS OWL IS MUCH DARKER AND HAS A RED HUE TO HER- VERY SCARED TOO- SO FAR 2
DIFFERENT OWLS IN THE LAST FEW DAYS– we think? It is hard to tell LOLSONY DSC

This owl was regular through november, unfortunately in early Dec. 2016 a bit of a disturbance:

Hi ,
We had a bit of drama here as the camera was hanging down in the box on Monday somehow was knocked off the bracket. I climbed up and tried to use a mirror to see if the owl could be in there but I couldn’t see anything! So I unplugged the camera and I tried to Unscrew the bracket but I could get leverage so I carefully opened the front and then I realized the owl was sleeping in the front corner. I quickly and quietly closed the front and we left until we watched her fly out at night and then put a new bracket up and extended the threads on the screws so it would fall down again. She hasn’t been back since – she does miss 4 or 5 days here and there but I am worried.

It wasn’t until January, that another different owl returned, first seen at during the night visiting via a box camera:

We have a male red owl that came to the box at 2:20 am and stayed! I played the videos of the owl songs I have last night for 20 minutes! Maybe it worked ! It is a brilliant red male and spectacular looking! I was able to get a couple of pictures from outside too but I am no sure of the quality because I didn’t want to take a chance to scare him away

Happy MLK Day

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Then on Jan 30th.

Looks like the gray owl is back and maybe they will mate! We were happy just having one red owl in the box! Now there is a lot of activity tonight! Exciting times are here!

But by Feb. 28.

Hi Everyone
Here is the latest update on the owls. It appears that something must have
happened to the red female . The gray male comes every evening and calls for
its mate (or someone new). The gray owl comes every night and scratches up
the nesting material and then calls for about a 1/2 hour. I thought I heard
an owl answer but mostly I hear no response. We are hoping that someone else
will come and join the poor little lonely gray male. Mating season is just
beginning so maybe he can lure another female in the box. He is adorable
and covers himself with shavings.

Which brings us to the current status:

An owl came to the box last night and is in there this morning!  There has been a lot of night time activity in the box with a gray male visiting and calling for hours. We also hear so many owls vocalizing all around our property! I am going to review the SD card as it is full of a visits from last night and will update everyone. We are hoping the sad male found someone new!

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Phew, happy to get caught up here–thank you for all the updates, and staying tuned!