Squirrel Resistant

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!

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.

 

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!

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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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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.

 

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!!!