Posts Tagged ‘screech owl’

Screech Owls Need a Hand

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

As a proponent of all native cavity nesting birds, I again was reminded of the housing shortage when the floor to the much sought screech owlsafter Flicker nest box fell out. After several seasons of hard use, interest by Woodpeckers, Greater Crested Flycatchers, Screech Owls and most recently, Horned owl attacks, 2 new nest boxes will be going up this weekend. I will be adding some experimental Owl Guards to keep the larger Barred/Horned Owls from killing their smaller “Screech-y” cousins.The Screech Owls seem to get caught by the Repeating nest box trap once a season. Even though the trap is placed lower to the ground than what Owls are said to like, my theory is that they are always desperate for nest sites and will investigate any cavity.

As a few cool days have reminded me of approaching winter and the news shows snow storms already battering some States, I welcome my yearly Eastern Phoebe friends that I have seen.

Screech Owl Tragedy

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

You may recall my occasional posts regarding a Screech Owl(s) that have called the Flicker nestbox next to my driveway home for several years now. Faithfully, every Spring, a pair of Screech Owls lays claim to the box and whether or not young have been raised there, I never really knew. I have found broken owl egg shells near the box and often see the owls exiting at dusk and just peeking out in the day. But recently the owls fate has become tragically known.

One morning this week, I was outside my garage and something on the ground on the concrete caught my eye. The adult Screech Owl was on the ground, not 10 feet away from me, looking at me with heavy eyes. The sunlight was obviously uncomfortable but the injury I saw made the glare of the sun on this nighttime raptor, insignificant.

Its right wing hung by a small thread of flesh, dried blood caked on itshurt owlfeathers and wing bones protruding grotesquely. I knew (s)he was in trouble and was beyond any hope of ever flying again. At best she would retain her life, but her gift of flight was gone forever. Glancing at the nest box I wondered about its contents.

My spouse got the ladder and climbed up and heard soft calls from inside and within the box were 2 of the cutest white powder puffs of baby owl, I have ever seen. There eyes squeezed shut, it was hard to make out heads or tails of the little fluffy balls.

We removed the babies for about 5 minutes while we made some repairs to the front of the nest box which will not make it through another year and while waiting for a call back from Busch Wildlife Sanctuary to determine what should be done. I looked them over and they seemed to have empty crops but otherwise unharmed.

The folks at Busch Wildlife told us to observe the nest box as the surviving owl would return during the day (which I thought was odd) and resume care of the nestlings. My fear being that the adult that was injured was close to the nestbox and was obviously caused by some predator. Either the hawk saw the male owl roosting in the tree by day and mangled it or a Horned Owl (common in my area) or Raccoon found the nest box during the night and attempted to pull out the female. In the ensuing struggle the little screech must have been able to tumble free and land in a large section of thick dense shrubs that surround that side of our house. I can imagine her laying in the bushes and making her way out to the concrete in the hours that followed.

A careful search of the trees close to the nest box uncovered no other owl roosting and as dusk approached, no other owls came to feed or care for the youngsters. Like the purple martins, after being attacked by such fearsome predators such as Raccoons or Horned Owls , the mate (if it survived) probably fled for its life and would unlikely return.

I watched from a vantage point that I would often sit to observe these little Screech Owls and no mate ever returned. My hopes for these 2 little owls fledging from our nest box diminished and I decided that a Wildlife Rehabilitator would be their fate.

4 days later, at Wildlife Resource Center of the Palm Beaches, I am told that the babies are doing well and eating up a storm. As for the adult Screech Owl, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary has YET to return my multiple calls.

Many thanks to Ellen from Wildlife Resource Center of the Palm Beaches. I think I have found a new Wildlife Rehabber!

Raccoons in our Midst

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Putting up Bird Houses to some is a very benign act. It gives some a warm fuzzy feeling but beyond the act of putting up the house in the first place, there is not much thought regarding the matter. This is not me. When I (and many others) put up a Bird House, there is a sense of responsibility that takes over. Some may say that what ever happens to the birds once the house is put up is, “part of nature.” I respectfully disagree with that.

The true course of nature is altered the moment we put up a bird house. For example, the fact that we brought starlings and sparrows to North America was a huge act against nature. Nature, or living with nature, would not manifest itself by people cutting down tree snags for aesthetic purposes. So when one speaks of nature and its course being altered my thoughts are, I am an advocate for nature and the creatures that are put at a disadvantage due to our actions. When I put up a bird house it is my property and I will protect it as such. Now about those raccoons!

Raccoons are an amazing animal. Though wild, I am sure that had Native Americans wanted to domesticate it, they could have. Only Raccoons would serve no purpose. Wolves were domesticated to herd livestock. Their protective nature was a great advantage. Even cats that serve no functional purpose are useful for their companionship and affectionate nature. But Raccoons? I mean, they are cute with that little mask but other than stealing food, what do they do?  They are survivors and super adaptors. They prosper anywhere and are around in abundance. Think you don’t have raccoons around? You would be surprised.

Alas, raccoons are in my yard. Apparently my Eastern screech Owl has been the first victim of this masked maruader. On the grass, out by the Screech Owls nest box, I found an egg. Not a chicken egg either! My Screech Owl lifted it’s head up from its nest box to see what I was doing as I looked at the broken jewel of an egg. The little Owl dipped its head back down, away from view. To me, the act of eating eggs is the most disgusting thing I can think of. DO I eat eggs? Sure. But remember that eggs in the store are not fertile. This little egg was alive at one time with a small miracle growing inside it. Then along comes this thief and commits infanticide! Or with a bird is is nestlingacide? hmmmm. Whatever the name, it disgusts me. Now my thoughts travel to my Purple Martins and how safe are my birds with those vermin coons around?

My CUENT gourd rack has a 4″ section of PVC around it and my Sunset Inn house has a plastic “stovepipe” type of guard. Strange but now that I now the Raccoons are so close, I do not trust them. I am almost in a panic state. Thoughts of midnight raids and unspeakable Purple Martin tragedy sneak into my thoughts. Other than the predator guards; what can I do? Well, this is what I have “heard”.

1. Let my dog out often. (unfortunately, he is not much of a protector)

2.Keep ammonia soaked rags or moth balls around the perimeter of wherever I don’t want raccoons.

3.Think about installing motion activated lights.

4.Don’t leave the garbage cans/pet food outside.

5.Trap and call the Animal Control folks.

I’ll let you know what happens.

Blog Copyrighted: S.Halpin/ PurpleMartins-R-Us.com

2009 – Here We Go!!!

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

As Purple Martin season draws near I find myself torn between preparing for my birds return on one hand and preparations for “everything else” on the other. My birds returned on January 29 last season and I have the sneaking suspicion that they will be earlier this year. It always seems odd that Purple Martins arrive so much earlier on the West coast of florida. Why would one little Lake (Okeechobee) hold up my birds for an additional month? I should be grateful for the extra time. Especially this year. My 4 year old son started going to pre-K only 3 months ago. And in that time we have all endured the flu twice. My 2 boys also have suffered through a sinus infection, an ear infection and a never ending runny nose. So running outside to gather pine needles is low on the to-do list. But it had better make its way to the top soon. Being sick has delayed the preparation of many things.

I am in the process of trying to gather information for a database of South Florida Purple Martin Colonies and have been placing flyers on mail boxes of homes that have martin housing up. On January 21st I will be going to the 2009 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville for 4 days. I will be giving 2 presentations on Purple Martins along with tending to my exhibitor booth. I am planning on being at the Folke Peterson Wildlife Center on Jan10 for the “Call Of The Wild” event, again to give a presentation and run an exhibitors booth. Then add all the web site development stuff I have undertaken, I still need to buy the cement for the ground stake, and get my new CUENT gourd rack up. I had planned on increasing my capacity this year but I may have to be satisfied with a slight increase. Last year I had 12 gourds and 7 compartments in my house. I had about 85% occupancy.

This season I plan on slightly increasing gourds offered to 17 and 6 compartments in a new Sunset Inn house. I MAY be able to add a live webcam this year and somehow integrate this feature in my website PurpleMartins-R-Us.com .

 

One thing I DID get to do was put another coat of paint on the “little repeating nest trap that could”. The paint may be the only thing holding this trap together at this point. The wood is warped, but the lines on this house were never straight to start out with. My husband is still in shock that it actually works and it was proven again when last week I put the trap up. I had thought I heard a Starlings wolf whistle amongst a large flock of Grackles. Long story short the “little trap that could” did not catch the starling but the next morning I awoke to find another Eastern Screech Owl in the holding cage. Off you go little guy, go get some sleep.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/ PurpleMartins-R-Us.com

Woodpecker in the Trap! April 14, 2008

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Another innocent catch of my home made Nest Box Repeating Trap!!! A red bellied woodpecker must have decided to check it out as the flicker box is home to a pair of Screech owls. It had shown much interest in the Owls nest box but the owls would have nothing to do with such an intrusion. So there it was, very mad and very noisy. My mockingbirds, whose nest is about 2 yards away from the trap, were not happy and calling out in protest. Of course I went straight out and released it…a few nips with a woodpeckers bill. That was a first! At least I got a picture before we parted ways.

My martins seem happy. We have been sick in the house so I haven’t been on the patio too much. Its hard to get an accurate count. It seems as though there has been a slight musical nests that has taken place. My only hope is that it is due to the Martins simply changing their minds; not due to hawk attacks. A ASY pair that had built a nest in my gourd on a shepherds hook is no longer there. It is now occupied by a lone SY male who is very vocal in trying to attract a mate. It may prove difficult as he is only about 4 1/2 feet off the ground and about 60 feet from the main housing.

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin / www.PurpleMartins-R-Us.com