9/30/2014

Barn owls to control rat population in Johannesburg, South Africa

Interesting article about the use of Barn Owls to help control rat populations in parts of Johannesburg. I was surprised by the total number of Barn owls released since 1998 - over 83,000.

http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/owls-no-use-in-alex-rat-war-1.1758081

Scope of the rat problem: http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/ratlehong-plagued-by-rats-1.1675209

8/19/2014

New location for the Screech owl box

We recently moved to a new 17 acre property that has a couple of pastures with mature trees around the edges. I haven't had much free time to scout for birds, but I did manage to take a walk early one evening and was able to call a pair of Screech owl using a recording. Late Friday night I was pleasantly surprised when a Screech owl called from some trees right next to our bedroom window. Based on these developments, I decided it was time to put up my owl box. I decided to put it up in my backyard, where I'll be able to keep an eye on it. The new location is very close to where the owl was calling. Sunday I spent a hot afternoon digging through bed rock to get the post down to a decent depth. The owl box is on a 12 foot post, so you have to get it down at least 2 feet to ensure that wind and wildlife won't pull it down. After a few hours of digging I was at a good depth and the owl box went up. Last night my wife called me and told me that the Screech owl was 'going crazy'. I managed to hear the tail end of some pretty serious vocalization. All of this is pretty good news, but I am trying to stay calm. Maybe I will finally get lucky this year in my new location!



4/29/2013

Still no sign of an owl

I checked the box over the weekend and came up empty.  I did find some owl pellets under the pines at the back of the property and was hoping that the owl would use the box.  Looks like more suitable locations have been selected by the owls and that I'll strike out this year...

3/27/2013

Owl cam sites

Considering I've had no action in my owl box I decided to post some links where you can actually see owls in action.   I'm considering changing my blog to noowlinmyowlbox.... a little wordy, no?

Enjoy the owls:

Barn Owl Cam  1    2    3    4
Great Horned Owls  1    2   3   4  
Screech Owl  1   2   3   4

If you come across other streaming owl cams, please share!

3/15/2013

Not an owl in sight

I checked the owl box today and there was no sign of an owl. To make things even bleaker, the wood chips inside the box looked undistributed. I was at least hoping to see a neat little bowl in the middle of the box, but sadly this was not the case.


As I mentioned previously it looks like my only shot of attracting a pair of owls is later in the season if their initial attempts fail at another nesting site.

3/11/2013

Screech owl box ~ No activity yet

So far I haven't seen or heard an owl near the new location of the box.  This is definitely prime time for Screech owl nesting, so I'm hoping for some action in the near future.   My best bet of attracting a pair would probably be a young pair that is new to the area.   Established pairs are most likely using the same nest cavity as previous years.

I'll probably give in to temptation and do a quick site check over the weekend.

PS:  I found another local NJ Screech Owl landlord at New Jersey Screech Owl.  Michael literally lives a stone's throw away from me.

12/30/2012

Spotted Eagle owl nest

If you haven't checked out this blog from my old home town in South Africa please do so.   These lucky people have spotted eagle owls nesting in a pot plant located on their balcony - incredible!

http://potplantowl.blogspot.com/

Owl box location - photo



Owl box now laocated to the top left of the picture about 50 feet from the pine tree row.

Owl box in new location

I finally decided to move the owl box to a new location.   This is the 3 rd location and I am confident that this one will be a winner.   The new location is on my lawn at the back of my garden.  The box is on a 10 foot post and the entrance hole is about 7 1/2 feet from the ground.   To discourage squirrels I put a baffle on the post.   In addition the box is far enough from any trees which means that squirrels won't be able to jump onto the roof.  The day after I put the box in the new location I had a pair of Screech owls calling in my river birch outside my bedroom window.  I am hoping that this is a good omen.   No sighting of any owls during the day....   It's still early days as the owls will only start nesting at the end of March.





2/14/2012

Short eared owl aerial combat


Ron Dudley recently returned from one of his favorite places in the world – Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Last year he was able to photograph nesting Short-eared Owls carrying voles to their young but this year, because of the very cold spring, nesting hadn’t even begun. Instead the owls were competing for territory and mates and pairing up. On one morning he was incredibly lucky to find two males trying to impress a female with their aerial prowess and fighting skills. They were so engrossed in their activities that they pretty much ignored him.  What follows is incredible photos of Short eared owl aerial battles.  Make sure you check it out:


Agonistic (fighting) behavior SEO

2/11/2012

Snowy Owl Invasion

Snowy Owls lead nomadic lives and travel vast distances from year to year searching for productive feeding areas. Some years, most recently in the winter of 2011/2012, conditions cause them to come south in great numbers.

Get an intimate look at these white owls from the north through video and photographs captured by the Cornell Lab's, Gerrit Vyn.


See also: Snowy owl adventure with my favorite birder here.

11/27/2011

Searching for the elusive Saw whet owl

Took a quick run to PA this morning to see if I could find a Long eared owl or a Saw whet.  I have been striking out on Saw whet the last few years and I was hoping that my luck would change.  The weather was very cooperative and it was pretty toasty by 7 am.    Although I spent an hour knocking on the usual doors I struck out on both Long eared and Saw whet.  This is the first time I've been out to this spot in November and I am hoping that my luck will change later in winter.

I was lucky enough to see a Screech owl popping its head out of a 'Wood duck box'.  I had to chuckle to myself considering that I am the only person in the world who can't attract a Screech owl pair to my owl box.  To add salt to the wounds my blog is named after the aforementioned vacant owl box.  I had to wonder if I'd get a tenant if I started calling it a Wood duck box.  To be consistent I will also need to change the name of the Blog to the Wood duck box.... doesn't have the same ring does it.  How about Wood duck owl box blogspot - shoewee what a mouth full ;-)

Anyway here is a photo of the Screech owl that was mocking me with his/her cuteness.  This is the first photo that I've taken with my 300mm lens and the 1.4 extender.  I'm pretty impressed with the results, especially give that I had to manual focus it.  I also found a very cooperative Great Blue Heron.


11/23/2011

Barn owls help wine drinkers!

Next time you drink a glass of California Chardonnay say a silent thank you to the Barn owls.  Farmers in California are starting to use Barn Owls to control the rampant gopher population. Farmers use owls to kill gophers.

Barn owls are gopher eating machines:
In warm weather they'll eat two rodents per night and in cold weather that increases to three or four per night. Once we have babies in the nest that increases to one per night when the chicks are just hatched and up to six per night when the young are about ready to fledge!
Barn owls are ideal for land managment as human interaction does not seem to bother them.  This is not withstanding their highly developed sense of hearing - they can actually hear gophers chewing on roots under the ground.  Additionally, Barn owls aren't territorial and unlike other raptors they don't spend the bulk of their time chasing competitors away.

I would encourage anyone who has heard a Barn owl in their area or who has suitable habitat to put up a Barn owl box. 

Here are a couple of sites that may be useful:
Nesting box - Barn owl box company
Biology - http://owling.com/Barn_nh.htm
Box placement and maintenance - http://www.wildlife-center.org/where%20and%20how%20to%20hang%20a%20nesting%20box.htm

The human side of blogging

One of my blog features that I love the most is when readers stop by and introduce themselves.  I've actually had the opportunity to meet a few of these people in 'real' life, but even in the cases where I haven't, it's nice to know a little more about the people that stop by my blog.

If you haven't done so please introduce yourself by clicking here.