Barn Owl Box ready

The Barn Owl box went up in late Spring and unfortunately nothing used it this year.   I'm hoping that at the very least a Screech Owl will use it next year, although a Barn Owl would be a huge bonus.   Unfortunately Barn Owls are pretty rare in my area, but I figured it was worth a shot.   I'll be adding another Screech Owl box later in Fall.  I am also planning to removing the metal flashing off of the front and roof of my current Screech Owl box to see if that makes any difference.   The flashing was added in my old house to discourage the squirrels.  The new location has very few squirrels and they aren't able to jump onto the box.  The only way up is to climb the post which has a metal baffle, so that's not an option.   Good news is it's squirrel proof, bad news is that it's empty....   Who knew attracting a Screech Owl can be this tough!!


Stop in and say hi

If you're new to the blog or just stopped in to read more about owls, please say hi:


Barn Owl Box

I am in the process of completing my construction of a Barn Owl box. Although attracting a Barn Owl is a long shot, but I had to give it a try. Here is a photo of the current status. More info to follow.


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.


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


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!


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...


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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


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.


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.