Sunday, June 10, 2012
EE viewer’s chat Saturday 6/9/12
EagleEye_-1: That is a good question to ask, at this time there is no real study going on that I know of regarding the intelligence level of the Barn owls.
EagleEye_-1: But we have all, for the last 2 plus years been doing a lot of our own research and it is very evident that these birds are very smart.
EagleEye_-1: We have learned so much by watching them, how their family works, the deep bond between the mated pair, the care taking the male do's as soon as the female lays eggs,
EagleEye_-1: how the male is the sole provider while the female is the sole incubator and owlet feeder
EagleEye_-1: We have been able to see behavior between the mother and her owlets and we know there is a lot of communication, touch, and care in her behavior from what we have seen
EagleEye_-1: the only in depth research done on these animals was by Stacy in her book "Wesley The BO" because of her closeness to this owl she was able to document and observe a lot of one on one behavior
EagleEye_-1: but in the real world these owls are considered wild animals, it is against the law to have them unless it is for education and research and since they don't talk like parrots not much has been done
EagleEye_-1: on them as a species, but I think that is going to change in the future and these nest boxes are part of the reason why science needs to take another look and rewrite the books.
The next question is from AZowl :- Maybe I just haven't seen others but the only owlbox cams I'm aware of involve barn owls. Are barn owls the only owl species that would lay eggs in a box-like structure?
EagleEye_-1: Actually there are some Screech owl and barred owl nest cams currently on ustream that are in a nest box
EagleEye_-1: so we know of these 2 species, I would also think the little Elf owls would since they nest in cactus hallows
EagleEye_-1: I think it is a matter of what is available to nest in also, if there is enough habitat they don't need the artificial nests but in today world in different areas that is changing
EagleEye_-1: There are many owls around the world that also would use a nest box, we have seen the PPO using a potted plant because there is no other place to nest but when I talk here I am giving my knowledge with "North American" species
EagleEye_: Azowl also asks: Even when the box is essentially empty and clean (as it is now), I don't notice any other bird species trying to nest in there--or even peek in the door--why not?? In my yard, wrens, for example, seem to try to set up housekeeping in ANYTHING--including my hanging geranium baskets!
EagleEye_: That is because each nesting site is unique for that species, this is really to big for a crow, sparrow, Wren, etc.
EagleEye_: Also, at the time of "hatching" a type of "imprint" takes place in a chicks brain of their nest and environment, when that chick grows up that imprint in the brain will help them pick their nesting site when it is time for them to reproduce.
EagleEye_: Everything is a "learned" behavior, just like with humans wild animals HAVE to learn from parents how to live and survive.
EagleEye_: This teaches them what their habitat is, what the food is, what danger is, etc.
EagleEye_-1: So much emphasis is put on "instinct" being a big part of the survival but I have a hard time with all of the "Book" scientists, they are not "Hands on" when they were writing all the books on wildlife
EagleEye_-1: they wrote from "Observations" and it really wasn't until Jane Godall lived with the chimps and began serious interaction with the chimps along with her observations she began to open the door into
EagleEye_-1: basic hands on research which is still way behind the times today. We have learned so much recently about emotions and wildlife behavior, we have just learned that "Crows" memorize faces of people in
EagleEye_-1: their everyday life and if someone hurts a fellow Crow, the entire flock will know that person because they communicate with one another and use tools.
EagleEye_-1: Now if that was proposed 10-20 years ago that would of been put down real fast by the scientific community, for some reason they don't want to give animals feelings or emotions and we all know by what
EagleEye_-1: we have watched with the nest cams that there is something there besides just "instinct"
EagleEye_-1: There has also been some very interesting questions from the schools this year
EagleEye_: One of the great ones I got this year and have never been asked before had to do with the feathers: Sometimes the area around the owlets face seems to reflect light (glow). Is that sometime just seen because of the camera, or do these owls have special feathers that reflect light around the face?
EagleEye_-1: I will be honest that I was just going to say it was a variance of light fraction but "kanga" came up with a really great explanation"
EagleEye_: Bird feathers are made up of many tiny interlocking "strands" that each have even smaller parts to them. Due to their different structure, feathers can have an appearance similar to that of a glass prism breaking light into different colors - this is called refraction.
EagleEye_: Colors that are formed through refraction of light in this way are brighter and more metallic or even shiny looking than those that are coloured by pigments. All the tiny face feathers on the owlets can refract light in the same way so it looks like a shiny reflection.
EagleEye_: See what a great definition an Engineer comes up with!
EagleEye_-1: Well to be honest that was all of the questions that were submitted to the Q & A which tells me that all the great people that come here and the other nests are very well educated about the owls which
Nickels1: ty EE. I have a Q. Do the owlets stay around the same area as mom and dad??
EagleEye_-1: Nickels, Yes they do, they don't go that far, in recent years it has been discovered that Barn Owls are actually "colony" nesters and will tolerate other nest around them
cathair: What birds have the best hearing?
EagleEye_-1: cathair, it is owls, they have the facial disks to pick up the sound vibrations which enhances their hearing
pop-up: EE, Is a mom barn owl less motivated to feed young when she needs to hork (and can't eat herself)?
EagleEye_-1: pop, no, her having to hork has nothing to do with her tearing meat up for the owlets, she may pause and hork but her first job is to feed and care for the owlets
darbsluvowls: I have one what is the size of their territory?
EagleEye_-1: darbs their territory is not more than a mile from the nest site
sunza: THat is what I was wondering... how far do they go to hunt and how do they know what is another owl's territory??
EagleEye_-1: Barn owls will hunt and over lap in to other Barn Owls territory, that is why they are colony birds, they tollerate each other IF the prey is plenty. The only time they will attack or do harm to a nest is if there are competing nests and a shortage of food or nesting sites or mates
kangarobin: consider also that some vineyards have owl boxes as close as every 10 rows, so their territories would overlap to some extent (?)
EagleEye_-1: kanga your right! That is why they are not being reclassified to a colony bird
EagleEye_-1: as kanga mentioned in the vineyards with that much food available from the crops they put them up really close to each other but the owls don't hunt withing 100 feet of their own nests
darbsluvowls: so how for do the kids have to go?
EagleEye_-1: darbs they can go 100 yards or a mile, it all depends on the resoucres around them and in the area, if there are a lot of prey they don't have to go far at all
Nickels1: Kanga, have you seen any owlets from the first clutch??
kangarobin: re the question whether anyone has reported seeing the kidz in the neighborhood - answer, No (doubt whether they could tell what owl they were seeing)
bugmom: << confused. They are colony birds? Or not clony birds?
EagleEye_-1: They ARE colony birds
pop-up: EE, how do the parents teach the young to hunt? Do the young learn just from imitating the adults?
EagleEye_-1: pop, they accompany the parents to the hunting grounds and they watch, a parent will most likely "maime" an animal enough for the young owlet to come down and begin to imitate what it has seen the parents do with the prey, they will then learn if it is dark brown, furry and "moves" (something they rarely had in the nest) that it is food
kangarobin: EE "in the field" used to be that she'd have to sit in the woods among the skeeters with binoculars observing what she could from afar - but now with cam technology we have an even greater insight
EagleEye_-1: exactly kanga!
bugmom: EE, do the moms actually palpate the eggs for temp and heartbeat? Or are they just rolling them when the put a foot on them?
EagleEye_-1: bug, they are just rolling them, the feet are made to be killing tools so they don't have that much nerves or blood vessels in them to be able to gauge temp or heart if a foot had a lot of nerves and blood in them then it would be so easy to be hurt when they grab up prey, that is a rough "life and death" battle and having that much sensitivity in their feet would
lilbirdz: q: This year there was a significant migration of snowy owl due to population boom last year. Is it likely, some of them will decide to stay in southern regions?
EagleEye_-1: lil, no, they will go back up north to nest, when baby birds hatch there is a really unique thing that happens that was recently discovered that when these babies hatch there is a part in the brain that is like a GPS system and imprints on the longitude and latitude of where they are so that when they migrate south for the winter they can find their way back to the nesting grounds for the spring time so since these owls also need "snow" as a major camouflage they will not stay down here and stick out like a sore thumb
LaraLeaf: EE, I was watching a video of hummer Phoebe defending nest from lizard today; every once in awhile, looked like she would hover over eggs, touch with beak. Do beaks 'sense' temp?
EagleEye_-1: Lara, if they were going to feel and touch their eggs then I would have to say Yes that the beak is way more sensitive then their feet for that but it would have to be higher near the "cearce" for that distinction to be make
rickieray: how long does it take for them to learn to hurt?
EagleEye_-1: rickie that depends on the owlet, some can learn in a few lessons some are slower then others and may take longer and some may hang around for a hand out from the parents
EagleEye_-1: Some thing I noticed in the rehab is that a lot of times the babies I would get in were "slow"
EagleEye_-1: I also have to rethink what we were taught that when a baby is sick the mother takes it from the nest, this is something we have seen here that isn't true
LaraLeaf: in raptors or birds in general, EE ?
EagleEye_-1: birds in general Lara
EagleEye_-1: we were taught that the ones brought in were all ways sick and the mother abandoned them and that has been show to not be true so I have to rethink that the babies we got in were not really sick
lilbirdz: q: Is the last hatched likely to retain "baby of the family" attributes longer than other sibs?
EagleEye_-1: yes lil, because they are the last to hatch they are the last to get fed and the last to fledge so they are behind the older ones right from the get go
bugmom: EE, does prey abundance influence clutch size?
EagleEye_-1: bug, yes and we saw that this year, the majority of the nests laid less eggs this year than previous years and for some reason mother nature knows what the need is
bugmom: Do you think there is any conscious decision on Male's part to stop full bonding if prey is less abundant?
EagleEye_: no bug, I think it is the female actually, it is her body and her eggs that are fertilized, I think it may have something to do with how much prey she has had during the fall and winter that indicates if there is a lot of prey then she has more fertile eggs, if there was not a lot of prey she isn't that physically fit to lay a lot of eggs so then nature somehow knows to lay less eggs.
bettyboop2u: q: Do barn owls always stay together in the off season? Or do they sometimes part until nesting season?
EagleEye_: betty, the pair stays together to protect the nest and their area around the nest which in this case would be kanga’s yard. They are all ways close by and don't go far and this was confirmed by kanga telling me he heard them all fall and winter in the area calling between themselves
EagleEye_: They most likely have a favorite perch (roost) that they use to keep watch over their kingdom and domain
bugmom: In that case, EE, wouldn't Mel prevent a UFO from entering the box with Syd?
EagleEye_: bug, yes he would that is why that UFO is either Mel or Dinky or another from last years clutch, could of also been Mattie returning for a visit and chat
rickieray: EE we have seem at alot of boxes this year that the mom leaves the box to soon before the babies are old enough ,do you know why?
EagleEye_: rickie, I have seen that when the food intake by the male is so low the female has to leave to hunt and supplement the feedings
LaraLeaf: Do you get a lot of the juveniles that have left nest, being fed by parents, but haven't learned to fly yet (fully fledged)?
EagleEye_: you know those college kids, they still come back home with dirty laundry and hungry
LaraLeaf: Do you see a lot of instances where ppl think the juveniles are 'sick' and pick 'em up, instead of leaving them alone?
EagleEye_: Lara, yes, most of the ones I would get in were in between nestling and fledging when found so they were either eager to get out, were pushed out by sibs or were just learning to fly
lilbirdz: EE, do you know the average survival rate for fledglings during their first year?
EagleEye_: lil, since there is no real tracking system in place like banding and GPS them there is very little real data as to what the survival rate is, basically it is all done with math equations, statistics, and a lot of guessing.
PortCreditTch1: Sorry if someone asked this before. What is your opinion re-banding?
EagleEye_: banding in my opinion is a really good thing if done right, but I have seen bands that are not placed right and to tight by the time the baby grows it does a lot of damage but I was going to go for my banding certification because I believe it has a lot of valuable data for us if a bird is recovered but then they decided that they were not going to band any more but IMO banding is a very very valuable tool in learning about the birds and were they are migrating to, how old they live, how many times in to rehab, etc.
bettyboop2u: Q: What size clutches do Barnies nesting in the vineyards have?
sunza: Good question - there are so many vineyards just inland from the owlbox
EagleEye_: I don't know betty, they don't share their data with the public if anyone is doing a study on the which I have not seen any
ruthiesmom2: Huge Thanks for posting about the found, injured barnie in MI. rodencide apparent lead to bleeding in throat, V-K given, was weakly hissing and toe dusting, what do you think are his chances?
EagleEye_: to be honest a poisoned bird’s outlook isn't good at all
EagleEye_: I have found that after being poisoned there are a lot of long term effects that even though the bird is found, rehabbed, antidoted and then released down the road there will be some sort of problems with the neuro, kidney, liver and other body functions that will make survival in the wild very hard and they may have a complete organ failure and die
darbsluvowls: kanga what motivated u to build the OB and did u have any idea of what u were getting into?
kangawatch: darbsluvowls - summer 2010 we had seen an owl on the back fence in broad daylight, a few times... so that told me there were owls in the area
bettyboop2u: Would they release to wild or keep in rehab for future treatment
ruthiesmom2: honestly thought to be extinct rather than just endangered, hoping this case will garner notice to be responsible with poisons, but as you know it takes awhile
EagleEye_: Knowing now what I know at this point if it is seriously down then the most humane thing is to euthenize, much better going in a fast way to sleep then starving in the wild and being helpless to predators.
skyskimmer3: EE what are your thoughts on the falcon that has mated with its son
EagleEye_: sky, that is very interesting, I had not heard about that one, only one I have been watching is the one on RRP, Michelle I think is her name
LaraLeaf: EE, in the owl world, are there more owls who's fledglings go back in box at night at first, versus once they go out of box, they stay out (like Shreech Owls)
EagleEye_: Lara, ideally in the right setting they go back into the nest during the day, that is their protection while they are learning to fly, hop, talon, land, etc. that is why the proper nest box is also put in the right setting and they are provided for like kanga has with a wonderful branching system
kangawatch: branching, platforms, perches, flat-style roof etc were all advocated by discussions with owl folks in the very beginning - particularly recommended by EE who is responsible for much of the design you see on cam