Sad Ending….New Beginning???

Site 1

Wait, what was that, is there something in the box??? I thought to myself as I am looking through a bunch of budding leaves and branches. I walk to a clearing and see something gray slink back down out of the entrance. Hmm, shouldn’t be a squirrel…are owls that plentiful that another owl would use the box while the family was away? So I watch a little bit, a squirrel sits on branch to the right(facing) of the box and a red phase screech owls swoops from out of the the near by yew and takes a pass at the squirrel and lands in the entrance. Uh Oh, the only reason I could think of that they would be back at the box would be because the owlet didn’t make it. So I took a walk to the area where I had last seen the owls. Sure enough I found the little owl on the road by a curb. So I would chalk it up to an auto. A second possibility would be it was too weak to survive a wind and rain storm that had recently passed through but I think an auto would be the more likely cause. Now Gehlbach has a section on Renesting but this is with failed nests,1 with chicks, but not much on fledging failures, I don’t know if this would be considered a second brood? I am hoping that this pair may try to nest again as they are back in residence.

Warning Last Image is Graphic (click to view larger)

Just after the male took a pass at the squirrel

Hopefully a new beginning

poor little guy


Photo Upgrade

At the risk of this becoming more of a nature photo blog…I still will try to keep it focused as a log book on the screech owl boxes.
I broke down and got a new camera. Its Fuji HS10,
I don’t have the budget for a DSLR and the fixings, (aka.. lens kit 500 mm +) so got me a ‘all in one’ type ‘bridge cam’/superzoom point and shoot with lots of controls. Anyway it can do 24 – 720 mm equivalent focal lengths. The pictures are not going to have the fine detail that a DSLR larger sensor can get, but the versatility plus good images for a point and shoot type sensor. Sure beats what I had been using(some previous shots were taken with a pocket type point and shoot hand held up to a 7x fixed focused binoculars) .
And does give a bit more incentive to throw a random one off photo of a nice bird or animal here and there, especially in the slow owl season (aka summer).

Here are some examples at full zoom, as I learn how to use this thing.

redbr. merg.

red squirrel

black duck

2010 Season

Site 1
Screech Owls,
Male=red phased
Female=gray phased
First Egg 2/19/2010
# of Eggs……………..6
First Hatch 3/23/2010
# Hatched…………….6
Fledged ……………….6
(4 fledged on 4/23/2010, 2 fledged 4/24/2010)

Site 2
No Owls in Box,
Starlings attempted
House sparrows attempted,
Bluebird, (bluebird box, w/ monofiliment house sparrow deterant)
5 eggs laid, all infertile, none hatched.

Site 3
Screech Owls,
Male=red phased
Female=red phased
First Egg 3/31/2010 (+/- a day)
# of Eggs ………….5
First Hatch 5/2/2010 (+/- a day)
# Hatched………… 5
Fledged……………. 5
(3 fledged 5/29/2010, 2 fledged 5/30/2010)

Site 4
No screech owls seen

Site 5

Screech Owls,
Male= ?
Female=red phased
First Egg 3/7/2010 (+/- 3 days)
# of Eggs…………. 2 +
First Hatch 4/7/2010 (+/- 3 days)
# Hatched …………2+
Fledged …………….2+

Site 6
No screech owls seen,
great horned owls heard frequently until Feb 26, 2010 storm,
then heard occasionally.

Site 7
no screech owls seen,
screech owl present occasionally 1/4 mile away in natural roost

Site 8
gray phased screech owl first seen 4/16/2010
last seen 4/29/2010
no nest

2010 Totals:
screech owl eggs …….13 + (11 Massachusetts)
screech owl fledged…..13+ (11 Massachusetts)3

Squirrel Persistance III Pays Off

Site 3
Well for the squirrel at least, there is now mom and pups in the box on the martin pole. Going though the evicting routine of lowering the pole, open the box and removing leaves, when some squirmy things were under the leaves. They can have the box for a few weeks, at least until the pups can fend for themselves a bit. Plus the red phased owl was content in the SQR box today. This does mean that it will be tougher to tell if or when a pairing occurs(ed).
note to self:
next season, move the pole further away from the forsythia and the apple tree branches that are behind it.

SQR box Vs. Martin Pole Box

Site 3
The box on the martin pole has been by far the most used box here this winter. But given the recent squirrel take overs, perhaps the owl is becoming more comfortable with the SQR box. (which has been up a year less time, but was up when an owl was first seen in Oct 09) The SQR box is ~60 feet away with-in the line of sight as well. We are getting into prime nesting season and still no evidence of any pairing.


Squirrel Persistence

Site 3.
Another (or the same) gray squirrel, somehow, is most likely jumping to the box on the martin pole. Even after some pruning. The pole was shaken, which evicted the squirrel temporarily. We’ll see if this site is still viable this year. This again show the importance of box placement. Jumping distance for squirrels can be 8 feet, and since this is not a SQR type box. Once on the roof, the squirrel is home free.

More Squirrel Issues

Still not with a SQResistant type box, (good news)
Site 3, It looks like the Forsythia grew a bit, and allowed an access, jumping point for a gray squirrel to take over the box on the Martin Pole. The Box has been cleaned out of the leaves, branches pruned, now will the owl return? will it find a companion? Telescoping martin poles are very user friendly when it comes to box maintenance.