May 25, 2013

Barn Owl Relocation


A pair of barn owls took up residency inside a small building that was under construction. The owls entered through an open doorway and accessed the attic through an open hatch. There, they tended to their two chicks.

By mid-May, the guest house was nearing completion. Windows and doors were ready to be installed, which would prevent the owls from entering.

Like most wild birds, the barn owls and their nest were protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and could not be disturbed without authorization from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Due to the unusual circumstances, we were given permission to resituate the owlets to a nest box on site.

On Wednesday, Duane built a custom barn owl box and installed it in a nearby oak tree.





Next, the two owlets were removed from the attic and placed inside their new home, about 20 yards away.

That night, Sammarye volunteered to monitor the box, hoping to confirm a reunion.


She saw an adult owl fly near the box, but could not confirm a food drop. We had left a few dead mice inside the box in case they got hungry.

Sammarye monitored again the next night. Here's her account:


The adults showed up around 9:30 - pretty much the time that I heard the screech the first night. I saw a flash of wings over the vineyard, twice, but did not see them enter the box. 
Later, one of the parents flew to the box and sat at the corner for awhile. I could not see if it was carrying anything. It flew into the opening and came out rather quickly. 
The second time, the owl sat on the box for only a minute or so, and flew in. It stayed much longer. It came to the opening and peered out for a couple of minutes before leaving.