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Friday, January 25, 2013

I will prepare a place for you.

The male barred owl does the house hunting. Ned first checked out the box on Dec. 29. [note:the camera is motion activated with a time and date stamp]. He came back on January 20 and spent about 5 minutes looking all around and then went inside to sit a spell to make sure it would be comfortable for Nellie.  He came back again on January 23rd and went in and out of the box twice-one time taking out a leaf. [NOTE: On Feb.2, Ned came back for a 4th time to check out the box. This time we were able to see his transmitter so we are certain it is him. ANOTHER NOTE: Ned came Sunday, Feb. 3rd at 7:00 a.m and spent about 2 minutes inside the box. About a half hour later, squirrels starting building another nest so we get to see how the trap door works.] I am very hopeful they will come back. They usually nest in hollowed out tree cavities (which is why Myers Park is ideal) but I am hoping a free mouse each week will be the deal breaker.
We have been feeding the owls a mouse every week for about 6 weeks now and we are pretty sure it is Nellie grabbing it. This last time, we played the whistle twice and she was there.  As soon as the mouse was put on the platform, she grabbed it before Mike could even turn his back. She is now waiting at dusk for the mouse so we need to cut back to every 10-14 days.  We don't want her to be dependent on free mice. Yesterday I was working in the yard and didn't realize she was there.  I walked by the platform and she came to sit in the tree above waiting for the mouse.  While it is adorable and cool as heck, I cannot oblige her.
Barred owls will not nest if there are squirrels in the box so we have had  the leaves cleaned out twice. At 30 feet in the air, it is a task. I have a big stick to bang the box if they start to build again. I've also put up some flashing to prevent raccoons for getting at the eggs. We did see a raccoon last year visit the box so we know they are around. Eggs generally get laid in late February/early March.  Nellie has usually been one of the early nesters.

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