Thursday, May 05, 2011

barn owl update

If you've been reading this for at least the last year, you might remember the barn owl saga from last year. It was super sad. There were hanging around the barn. I built a box. They nested. They hatched. And the adult(s?) killed the babies when they were less than a week old. I was told by raptor folks that it's not unusual for first-time nesters. Not normal, but not unusual. So sad. :-(

Well, the female started nesting again about a month ago in the box in the barn. She's super skittish. At first I could barely get out of the yard before she would hear the gate and fly out, but she's calmed down a lot. I've been desensitizing her to noise. Either it's working or she's just chilling out as incubation progresses. I plugged in a radio out in the tack room, and it plays pretty loud all day. Classical music, of course, so I like to think her babies will grow up smart.

I haven't seen the male at all. Not once. Last year I saw the male all the time, he was out there almost every morning. He's distinctly different than her, much lighter in color. But I've seen no sign of a second bird this year, and that worries me. Then again, I don't know why she would be nesting if she didn't have a mate.

So, time wise, the eggs ought to start hatching any day. I thought a heard babies a couple days ago but I think it was a false alarm. I still have been seeing the female owl nearly every time I go out to the barn, though if I'm quiet the radio drowns me out pretty well and sometimes she would stay put. I did not see her at all today, despite having to do a few loud things out in the barn. So either she's really sticking tight, or she was already out... hunting? Who knows. I'm curious to see how things develop, I wish I had a little spy camera to look in there (recalling the "creepy peepy" from bird population survey class at UCD). But I really don't want to climb up there and look. I'll keep ya posted. And maybe one of these days I'll manage to get a photo!

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