May 20, 2011

Successful Wild-Fostering of owlet

We recently received a call from Peninsula Humane Society - they'd gotten a couple of nestling barn owls from San Gregorio. A raven had plucked one of the fuzzy babies from its nest. A sibling also tumbled out.

The one pictured here (left) was badly injured and did not make it, but the one below, did!

Their home was in this tree - in a fairly open crook, which left them vulnerable to predation bay ravens during the day and raccoon, bobcat, and fox by night.
The plan was to build and install an 'owl box' and re-nest this baby along with any of its siblings that might still be alive. 

Short on tree-climbers, days passed before we were able to put up the owl box. In that time, however, PHS received another owlet that had fallen from a poorly built box in Half Moon Bay which they paired up with the San Gregorio owlet - they were doing well together.
Because the HMB owl boxes were not safe and had yet to be retrofitted or replaced, the decision was made to attempt a wild-fostering. Since this nest had lost one baby, we were not adding any new mouthes to feed. 

On May 18th, one week later, Duane Titus installed a nest box on the 'home' tree. He looked for surviving owlets, and found none.

Later that evening, our volunteer, Patrick Hogan, drove the owlets from PHS (where he works as a wildlife rehabilitator by day), to their new home. After placing the babies in the box, Patrick sat in his car across the way and watched for the adults.

He waited, and waited, and waited, and finally, after it was very dark outside, the babies started calling... and then the adults could be heard making their clacking calls as they circled the tree. It wasn't long before he saw one of the adults enter the box. Success!

The land owners and caretakers were instrumental in making this re-nesting possible. We'd also like to thank Peninsula Humane Society for going out of their way to see that these wild babies remained wild and free.

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