Jun 27, 2011

A Day At The Fair

Last week, we received a call from Alameda County Fairgrounds - they were referred to us by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which, by itself, is really wonderful.

It turns out that a family of barn owls had taken up residency in the racetrack camera room - a good-sized room set very, very high on a tower overlooking the racetrack.

It is unlawful for anyone to possess wild birds or disturb their nests without special authorization from FWS. WildRescue holds two such permits.

The first step was to locate an appropriate spot for the new nest-box. Next, the box needed to be built and mounted. Through email exchanges with their Maintenance Department - having them send images of the surrounding trees, we were able to pinpoint an ideal spot. Debe did a great job getting the pics. 

We then sent our special barn owl nest-box design.

In just a couple days, Howard and Gary had built a beautiful box and had it secured to the tree, perfectly. It was ready to be occupied.

Today, wildlife technicians Duane and Max set out to move the owlets into their new home. Up the tower they went.

The somewhat older owlets were really active and had lots of places to hide. It took a bit of doing to collect all three.

Finally, all three had been safely collected, and with the help of Gary, on the lift, the babies were escorted down...

...and then back up again to their new home.

Much to everyone's surprise, one of the parents flushed from the tree, just from the other side of the box. 

Duane placed some dead mice inside in case they get hungry or should the parents not feed right away. We get our mice from Layne Labs - where rodents have their own Bill of Rights!

In, went baby Number One!

 Tonight, volunteer, Akira, will be on stakeout to see that the parents make a 'food drop' or enter the box. 


Watch the video here!

UPDATE 6-30-2011

Max visited the nest box to look in on the owlets. Surprisingly she only found one baby inside. He looked in excellent shape though - bright, alert, and very angry. There was a good deal of fresh excrement and many pellets, leading us to conclude that the babies were being fed. Max left a handful of mice just in case. 

We are also so grateful to Akira, one of our newer volunteers, for his dedication and expert observational skills. He went out two nights to the fairgrounds to look for the owlets, to see if the parents were feeding them. Last night he found that at least two owlets were calling from the tree - he saw one come out of the box around 9:30 and begin making begging calls. He also spotted the parents. Here is a snippet of his report:

In the meantime, while the "zeeee" calls were being heard constantly, two adult barn owls started circling overhead. (They were clearly lit up from underneath by the lights of the fairgrounds; it was a beautiful sight.) At least one of the adult owls started to make high-pitched "pi, pi, pi, pi, pi, pi, pi..." type continuous call. This "pi, pi, pi, pi ...." call may have lasted 10 to 30 seconds at a time. And it was repeatedly heard from about 9:35 p.m. to 9:50 p.m., coinciding with the period when "zeeeeee" calls were being made, presumably by the owlets.  I also heard the owl "screech" 2 or 3 times, but that was not a major component of the vocalization heard.

A big Thank You! to Max and Akira - these followup visits are so important!

UPDATE 7-7-2011

Max reports that last night she heard and observed the three fledglings in the 'home-tree' begging, and two adults flying in and out!

1 comment:

Pattee said...

Such a great story. You guys are wonderful!!