If you build it they will come

As I mentioned previously I have had the owl box up for nearly three years now. The first two years were a bust although I did find owl pellets underneath the owl box both years. The first year I had the owl box pretty close to the house so after an unsuccessful nesting season I moved it to the back garden. I also decided to move the box so it faced south rather than west as much of the prevailing winds come from the west. The only reason I initially had it facing west, was because that gives an unobstructed flight path for the owls.

After the second unsuccessful attempt I did some more investigation and I corresponded with a couple of folks who have been successful at attracting Screechies. The prevailing wisdom was that clear flight path is more important than the winds. Based on the advice from the experts I moved the box on the new tree back to face west. I also cleared out all the low branches as well as much of the brush below the nest. Additionally, I made some improvements to the actual box.

I added a perch inside the box which allows the owl to sit and look at the world as well as offering some protection to owlets as they can hide below it. I also added a few brackets on the outside for an owlet rail that I will add once the owls are ready to start exercising their wings. The rail is a good idea as it should stop the owls from falling to ground which can be a problem as I will be adding flashing around the nesting tree both above and below the nest. This is necessary because I have resident raccoons that nest in a hollowed out tree stump at the back of my garden.

After making all the improvements (except for the flashing which will be added this weekend), I felt pretty confident that I would at the very least have a Screechie spending the winter in the box. This confidence was further boosted when I heard a Screech owl in my birch tree next to my bedroom window one night. I was literally itching to check the box!

Last week I finally broke down and hopped up the ladder to check the box. When I peeked through the entrance hole all I saw was green leaves and sticks. This means only one thing - SQUIRRELS! I opened the box and I was ready to rip out all the debris when I saw something red squished up at the front of the box. Holy cow it was a red phase Screech owl - I nearly fell of the ladder! I rushed off the ladder and got my camera to make sure I wasn't imagining anything. Unfortunately I only have my SLR so the photo is really close up. Click the thumbnail to view a larger picture. I didn't want to use a flash so the picture is a little dark. I also labeled the picture as one of my non-birding friends couldn't see the owl....

Based on the last few weeks I am very optimistic that 2008 is the year! Hopefully this is the year where I can say "If you build it they will come!"


Are you out there?

Even though this blog is mainly for me to write about things that blow my hair back (not that I have a lot) I would love to hear from you! Blogging is the most fun when people interact with you and I would love to hear from you.

Take a sec and let me know (questions updated Feb'09):
> Where are you now?
> How long have you been birding?
> How often do you go birding?
> What are your favorite birds e.g woodpeckers, hawks, owls etc?
> What's your rarest bird you've seen?
> Where did you see your rare bird?
> What bird would you love to see?
> What's your favorite spot for birding?
> Do you keep a life list?
> How many birds on your list?
> Do you keep a garden list of birds?
> How many birds on your list?
> What's the nicest garden bird you've seen?
> What birds nest in your garden?
> Do you have any owls in your garden or close to home?
> Any more info you'd like to share?

Welcome to my bird blog!

Welcome, sit back relax and enjoy!

I wanted to start this blog by giving a brief description about me and why I wanted to start this blog. I have been blogging for about a year now about business stuff and I think it's about time that I start blogging about one of my main passions - birds. More specifically I am a FANATIC when it comes to owls. I will never forget the first time I saw an owl.
I must have been around 8 years old and I was on a small vacation farm that my family owned just outside Rustenburg, South Africa. Don't worry unless you're from that area you would never have heard of the town before. Anyway, I was walking outside at dusk and a Barn owl circled me. I was just standing there and this amazingly silent bird flew right over me twice while I was literally looking into its eyes. People often say that once the birding bug bites you you're hooked and that was definitely the case for me. Since that time I have pursued owls and I have been fortunate enough to see a host of them including in SA: Barn, Grass,Scops, Pearl Spotted, Barred, Wood, Marsh, Cape Eagle & Spotted Eagle; USA: Eastern Screech,Saw Whet, Great Horned, Long Eared, Short Eared and Barred. I was also fortunate enough to rehabilitate a Spotted Eagle owl while I was in boarding school at Treverton (Natal Midlands, South Africa).

I grew up in South Africa and relocated to
America in 1999. I am now based in northwest New Jersey right on the Pennsylvania border.

Ok, so why write a blog? Well I love reading about birds and I am hoping that some people may find my blog fun to read. The other reason is that I have a Screech Owl box in my garden and I am hoping that this blog will be a case of if you build it they will come. This blog is called the owlbox and I am hoping that this year is the big one for my owl box! This will be the 3rd year that my owl box is up and I am hoping that this is the year when a nesting pair moves in. This hope is a little more than hope as I have seen more owl activity this year than in the past. I have also made some improvements and adjustments this year that I think may well pay off.

So that's the intro - buckle your seats here we go!