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What happened to my Barred Owls?

 
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kathandrea



Joined: 13 Aug 2013
Posts: 6
Location: tampa, fl

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:06 pm    Post subject: What happened to my Barred Owls? Reply with quote

Hi. I'm not sure where my Barred Owls went but the seem to have disappeared. Last summer we saw them every night. Same routine...at dusk, one would fly onto a branch next to the owl box we built. It would hunt in our yard for about an hour and then move on. I heard at least 2 owls calling back and forth every night. I am pretty sure they had nested nearby previously as I would hear owl calls during the day and saw what liked like a juvie with a parent in our yard. The last time I saw them was Labor Day weekend. No more owl calls were heard until sometime later and then it was in the distance and only one owl. This November I was anticipating the return of the owls but nothing...only one owl calling with a long Hooo. No replies from another owl. They were never seen at the box again. Some history of the area... We live in Tampa and there has been some new house construction about a half mile behind us. There were a lot trees cleared in the area where I think they may have previously had a nest. There are numerous racoons. In September I witnessed a couple of them stumbling through the yard and they appeared near death (not likely due to rabies). The smell of decomposition confirmed they had indeed died. Shortly after that there were no more owls. We have a neighbor who has a Koi pond and was complaining about something eating them. I am purely speculating but I think maybe someone had put rat poison outdoors. Could this have killed our owls? One more thing... There was a large colony of ants in our yard. I put a mixture of Borax and maple syrup out in our screen room to get rid of the ones inside. Could they have traveled out of the screen room and been eaten by lizards which in turn were eaten by the owls? I apologize for the lengthy post. Any insight into what may have happened to our owls would be appreciated.
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owlboy
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Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 1343
Location: Albany, NY, USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Borax is considered non-toxic to birds. So, it is unlikely this is the problem. There are two other possibilities:

1. Someone used rat poison. Many people believe this is the best way to get rid of mice and voles. But, it usually just leads to more, since it kills birds-of-prey who remove them in large numbers. For these people, it is a education process. Mouse traps work better then poison if the population is too high. Once the owls die, the rodent population explodes.

2. One of the species on their menu has a disease, and the owls ate one. Owls to get digestive disease related to diseases in other species. The health of the forest can be seen in the health of owls.

Sorry to hear about their demise.
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kathandrea



Joined: 13 Aug 2013
Posts: 6
Location: tampa, fl

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for replying. I am hoping new owls will take over their territory. Is there anything I can do to try to attract them?
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owlboy
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Location: Albany, NY, USA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Owls generally nest where there are a lot of prey. Since Barred Owls nest in the same location for life, you will need a pair of juvenile Barred Owls. It is also possible you might get some off-spring from the original pair. Barred Owls will pass down nesting sites to their off-spring. You should know in the next month or two.
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kathandrea



Joined: 13 Aug 2013
Posts: 6
Location: tampa, fl

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good news! I have seen the barred owls going in and out of the nest box. The female does stay in the box for a while so I'm hoping she decides to use it. My concern is that there are a lot of raccoons that come to the yard as I put food out for them (I know...bad). Will the raccoons bother and deter the owls from nesting there? Will they be able to protect the fledglings from them...assuming we are so lucky? The other issue is with the numerous Flying squirrels (which I also feed...I know...bad)... how good are they at outmaneuvering the barred owl? Also I turn spotlights on at night to light up the yard and woods...doesn't seem to bother them but is it ok to leave them on? I usually turn them off at 9pm.
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owlboy
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raccoons and owls don't mix. Raccoons will climb the tree and eat the eggs. You can wrap hard plastic or aluminium flashing around the tree to prevent raccoons from climbing the tree. When the owlettes Branch, you will need to remove the flashing from the trunk of the tree.

The squirrels will leave when the owls start to nest. If they don't leave they will become food for the owls.

Lights or too much activity near the nest is undesirable.

Sounds like they are going to nest in your box.
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Doug



Joined: 20 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2016 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've had barred owls in our tree out back for the last three years. I'm getting a little concerned that we haven't seen much of them yet. Occasionally one comes to visit, and I'm pretty sure it's one of the originals because it sits in exactly the same branch as it used to in a nearby tree. They bred successfully last year, and we had a darling baby owl dancing around on the ground, trying to fly. Is January too early for them to start nesting in central Texas? I thought they were here around this time last year, but I might be mistaken.
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owlboy
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry that I missed your question. Barred owls generally start breeding in February.
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Doug



Joined: 20 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks. They're back, and checking things out. At least one is back, every day sitting on a branch facing the likely nest. I've seen one but heard two, and it takes two to tango. I'm presuming that the birds want to scope out the area carefully before they commit to nesting there, even though they have nested in this spot for two years. This is a marvelous spot, about 50 feet up in a tree that dropped a large branch, leaving an up-facing cavity.
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kathandrea



Joined: 13 Aug 2013
Posts: 6
Location: tampa, fl

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:56 pm    Post subject: owlets fledged Reply with quote

Update on our barred owls. 2 owlets were hatched and fledged about 2 weeks ago. I saw both owlets in nearby trees soon after and now can hear the parents further back in the woods... I guess luring the owlets away from the nest area? They didn't seem too bothered about being close to the house during nesting, lights, raccoons, people and all. Even a crow pair and baby were harassing them the entire time... at one point I even intervened and clapped my hands at the crows and they flew off...Momma owl seemed appreciative and stayed put on her day roost. I think she knows I was helping her Smile. Question...is it necessary to clean the box every year? And feedback on the design...I think we will change the perch design. The owlets liked to stick their heads between the perch and the box...I was so worried they would get their head stuck....
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Doug



Joined: 20 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My owls have been nesting since mid Feb. The other day, when papa was at the nest feeding, I heard little chirps. So there is at least one owlet up there. If eggs were laid when they started nesting, I ought to see some fledglings real soon. I haven't actually seen any owlets peeking over the nest, so maybe they are still a week or two away from thinking about trying to fly.

When it is warm, it's a pleasure to see mom and dad up on a nearby branch preening each other.
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