SNN (ScrollingNetworkNews) ✿ ✿ Our Mel and Sydney returned to their nesting box with plenty of bonding occurring..but after 2.5 months of Sydney in the box from Dec 2013 to mid Feb 2014, the lack of prey gifts from Mel ( perhaps due to the severe and historic drought underway in California)and they have forgone the nesting process this year as many other raptors ✿ Compared to other owls of similar size, the Barn Owl has a much higher metabolic rate, requiring relatively more food. Pound for pound, Barn Owls consume more rodents – often regarded as pests by humans – than possibly any other creature. ✿ We remind viewers that sometimes owlets may not survive - the parents will dispose of things in "The Owl Way" -viewer discretion is advised, this is nature and the "Owl way". ✿ ~ ✿ “Animals, like us, are living souls. They are not things. They are not objects. Neither are they human. Yet they mourn. They love. They dance. They suffer. They know the peaks and chasms of being.” ― Gary Kowalski, The Souls of Animals ✿ Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius." ~ E.O. Wilson

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Banding the mysterious barn owl

Look at a barn owl and it’s easy to see why legends of ghosts in barns, old buildings and church yards have legs.

They hunt at night, have the gift of silent flight and look like a flash of white as they move, swoop and dive for their prey. Add to that a scream that probably sounds like a people’s idea of a banshee, who in Gaelic folklore was the spirit that wailed and foretold death in a household.

So misunderstood, these owls.
The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife has 17 barn owl nest boxes on state wildlife lands. There are another eight at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Throughout the spring breeding season, biologists monitor those nest boxes and band young owls before they fledge and move out of the nest.

“Banding provides valuable information on life span, home range, nest site fidelity and migratory patterns, and assists in estimating population size,” he said.

The population is stable in Delaware, but in some states, these owls are listed as state endangered species. That makes them a species of concern, Lehman said. The state started building and placing nest boxes in Delaware in 1990.

The birds don’t have an easy time of it. As many as 75 percent die in their first year of life, and many don’t make it much beyond their first breeding season. They fall victim to predators, such as foxes, the larger great-horned owl and even raccoons. Loss of habitat from filling of marshes and destruction of old, abandoned or little-used building has also taken a toll, he said.

The largest populations of barn owls in Delaware are centered along the wetlands of the Delaware Bayshore. There, they feed on meadow voles.
At a nesting box in the state’s Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, it’s easy to see why they are such voracious eaters. There are seven pre-fledglings in this box.
Since 1996, biologists here have banded 556 barn owls.

Among this group are young birds from 117 broods and 29 adult females. Delaware’s birds are sometimes recaptured in New Jersey. One bird was recaptured at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, Md.
Because the birds in Delaware are so dependent on meadow voles, weather can play a key role in the success or failure of a brood. If the spring is dry, meadow voles stop breeding, and the food source for barn owls dries up, he said.

“That’s the disadvantage of keying in on one-prey species,” he said.

Once these predatory birds take flight, they’ll stop using the nest and will roost in trees during the day. By night, they’ll go hunting, scaring up a meal.

And maybe a few more ghost stories.