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Friday, September 4, 2015

I regret to inform you....

I have delayed this post long enough. Despite epic efforts in rehabilitation and enticing live mice meals, the Raptor Center has decided that Ned is "...not releasable but he has a proven track record as a parent so we will keep him as a surrogate."

Some of the RaptorMed documentation includes:
On ground and refuses to fly.
Could only get to fly once and then started to defend on the ground. Right leg severely droops when flying.
Only got him to fly 2x. He went to the ground and did not recover. Grabbed and tossed twice but always returned to the ground.
Could only get him to fly to the other side and landed on the ground. He was defending self and was stressed.
Upon x-ray-fracture is very stable. Range of motion is good. Fracture is completely healed.

I spoke to Rob last night who went to see Ned. He is clueless as well. We can speculate like news talking heads that a)Ned is just lazy and prefers the easy life b) there is something we are missing or c) he is just old and sore. Owls have been known to do strange things.  Two years ago, we were feeding Ned a live mouse every Sunday night and then, he just quite coming.  Who refuses a free, tasty, easy meal? The male choses the nesting site (and once they move in, they come back every year) and Ned and Nellie seemed very happy in our luxurious nesting box but the next year, they chose a different place and last year, another place.

The good news in all of this is that the Raptor Center is going to keep Ned as a baby daddy. He has fathered at least 20 owlets that we know of and although he is not terribly efficient-Nellie and Ned fed their babies an equal amount of prey but Nellie would find something in 15 minutes whereas Ned might take over an hour-he is a proud daddy and very vocal. An owlet that is injured needs to have an adult around to show them how to be an owl.  In addition, we have been able to raise almost $3000 for his care and he and Nellie are featured on the owl forest trail at the Raptor Center so notoriety is worth something.​

The other sad news to report is that one of the Ned and Nellie's babies was hit by a car and killed instantly.  This happened on Queens Road at the Lutheran Church. Elizabeth Rostan was kind enough to call me so I went over and got the baby off the road. It is such a sad job. When you see them up close you realize what majestic birds they are. Their feathers are works of art. Their talons are sharp vises that catch and kill on contact.  We are their only predators.  They have tunnel vision when they going after prey and never see the car coming.

December starts courting season so Nellie will be returning hoots to who she considers eligible men. She is an experienced mom and wife so will chose wisely.  There are several males in the neighborhood and beyond. My hope is that a new male will find our nesting box and chose it for their home.

Thank you for your interest and donations. Please sign up for the Raptor Center emails. There are many activities scheduled for the rest of the year that will interest many of you.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ned update

The Observer was kind enough to include a follow up article on Ned and Nellie. See

Ned is not doing as well as expected. His range of motion is good and the fracture has healed but there is a bony spike on his underwing that may need to be removed. It's also possible that Ned is older than we think and it's also possible that Ned is just being his lazy old self.  The pin was in for a long time and given the soreness that can come from being perch-bound can make for a  challenging recovery. Additionally, he hasn't had to hunt for food which is likely a pretty sweet deal so he may not want to give up the all you can eat rodent buffet.

Again, much gratitude for those who have donated (or just smiled at the story). The Raptor Center will be in touch with you soon and I will also be in touch with a token of my appreciation.

I leave you with some cool owl videos.

Barred owl facts-very comprehensive.

How owls transform themselves to warn off scary things

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A parliament of owls and update

One of the many things that go on behind the scenes at the raptor center is rehabilitation. Most of these babies fell and went boom. They are hanging with Ned who is teaching them owl things like hooting and clucking and puffing up when self-esteem is low. he is an experienced father and they look up to him. As of Wednesday, he has not attempted to fly but there is plenty of time. Live mice are scurrying around to tempt him plus he may be sore.
You can also visit my YouTube channel for owl videos.

If you would like to be on the Hooter list to hear updates on Ned and Nellie or owls in general, send me an email through this blog or directly to
Ned is on the left, a baby in the middle and another adult on the right. When you see the parliament of owls, it's easy to see the differences.

To directly donate to Ned's recovery click here Ned is patient number 18749. You will also find updates here.

Owl family time

For the last 4 nights, our owl family starts their evening ritual behind the tennis courts at edgehill park. A male makes his call several times but Nellie ain't got time for that  since she is feeding babies. Hope for Ned. Mom hops around on the ground, finds food, then feeds the babies. They spend their time flying from branch to branch each trying to outdo the other. Then they try to hunt following mom's lead. It is simply adorable. I assume and hope they will be there tonight. I'll be there with flashlight and hooter (that would be a calling device) and beverage.  Feel free to join in.

Barred owls are so called because their feathers have bars across them. Ornithologists are not terribly creative.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Outlaw Owls and Ned Update

 ​​Buckle up! It's going to be a long bumpy ride...​​

Ned Update​
​I went to see Ned Friday. Ned has been in the hospital for 20 days so far. His break was severe and by the time it heals and he finishes rehab​ we hope to have him back here by August. You can check on his progress by going to this link Ned is #18749

Ned came in at 667 grams so has gained 76 grams. Wrapping them and making it dark comforts them.

This is where Ned hangs out. Next to him are the 3 orphans that he is Baby Daddy to
Orphan owl with broken leg. About a month old. 
This is drunk Ned. They have to put him to sleep to get x-rays, clean the wound, and do physical therapy.
HIs pin. NOLO means no leftovers ROM range of motion BAR bright, alert, reactive

 ​​So far, his hospital care comes to $1609. Obama is not paying for this. So far, Terry Loeb, Holley Hamilton, J'Nell Bryson, Ann Tompkins, and me have contributed.​If you enjoy reading about Ned and Nellie, please support the raptor center and when you give, say that it goes to Ned.

Ned is helping the Raptor Center by being a baby daddy to 3 baby owls who fell out of trees and went boom and broke appendages. How cool is that?! Ned is talking to them and they are hearing his wise words. The only good vole is a dead vole. Crows and blackbirds are asshats. Never eat poisoned prey.

 ​Outlaw Owls
 Once the babies are self-sufficient (around July), they are supposed to go find their own territory. Over the last year, we have often seen and heard 3-4 owls. I call them the marauding or Outlaw owls.  This band showed up Wednesday night and we had 6 owls in our front yard. It was delightful. The babies were just flying around saying "look at me!" while Nellie was keeping an eye on them while making sure the outlaw owls kept their distance.


 Will Ned be released back to us?
 Yes, he will.  We will do a neighborhood party to welcome him back.
 Will Nellie take him back?
 We hope so. Owls mate for life but when one is "gone" they get replaced rather quickly. Dr. Rob said he has seen it happen in 3 weeks and he has seen it happen while the male was still alive (though owl divorce is rare). Ned has been here since at least 2009, so he will likely come claim his territory with a vengeance.  And since Nellie is a single mom raising twins, most male owls would pass her by as she is not in the mood to be carrying on with mouths to feed and crows to fend off.
 What about those crows?
 They are assholes. With both parents, one searches for food while the other looks after the babies. With only mom, crows and black birds get off on pestering Nellie. They do it because owls are predators and will go after their babies. One watcher told me that the crows got after one of the babies while she was on the ground trying to hunt and mom had to rush in.  It is no surprise that a group of crows is called a murder of crows while a group of owls is called a parliament of owls.
 Can they hunt for themselves?
 No. They are still getting the flying thing down. They are able to hunt on the ground but it makes them vulnerable so Nellie gets food and takes it to them when they are in the trees.  I am not allowed to give them mice more than once a week for fear they will get conditioned to free food and not hunt. I have however, thrown out a bunch of sunflower chips along Edgehill Park that hopefully will attract mice and birds for Nellie to grab.
How do I find them?
 The last 3 nights they have been at Edgehill and like in years past, they will likely stay there at least 2 more weeks. It is the perfect hunting ground with the creek and plenty of space to swoop. Listen for their cries which sound like screeches (they do that because they are hungry and to let other birds know this is their territory) and listen for the crows, blackbirds, and cardinals pitching a fit. Dusk and dawn are best but they can be out during the day because there is only one parent finding food.​
What's with the head bob thing?
Owls see in 3-D and because they have young eyes that are too big for the socket, they have to move their heads to see much like Stevie Wonder. click here to see owl head bob   If you hold your arm straight out and put your index finger up then close one eye then the other, you see a different perspective. That is what the head move is about.

 ​That's all for now. Drive slow around Edgehill. My cell is 704-451-2406. Feel free to call or text if you see something I should know about.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Baby owlet goes boom. Climbs up tree to get back.

We found Ned!

Little background---In 2009, Rob Bierregaard (professor who did barred owl research at UNCC) named our neighborhood barred owl pair Ned (went with Nellie) and Nellie (she was nervous). In 2011, he captured Ned, took him to our kitchen, banded him and put on a transmitter to keep track of his whereabouts. click on this link to see those photos.

Every Sunday night, we would whistle for Ned and have a mouse on a platform that he would grab. After about 6 months, Ned stopped coming around. Our neighbor Walker and I would take the antenna and try to find Ned but got nothing. That meant that either Ned had been hit by a car or that the battery was dead. We were sad. In the owl world, if one mate dies, he/she is quickly replaced.

Four years later...Monday, Jennifer King who lives on Edgehill, calls me to say there is an owl in her back yard not moving.
I see that he is banded and hurt. He is not moving. Flies are crawling on him. I see no respiration. I step towards him and he acts startled. I call the raptor center and they said bring him in. I forget that I am trained to transport owls.  I get my gloves,put a towel over his head to calm him and put him in a box. I text Rob the band number and he says it's Ned!!! At the raptor center, they evaluate him by first giving him pain medication, then x-rays, then develop a plan. See their tumblr blog at May 11.
He has a bad shoulder break and an eye injury likely caused by a car or hitting a brick wall while hunting and being chased by a dog. He had surgery today and did well. below is a link where you can follow his progress and donate to his care. The Raptor Center does amazing work.

I check on the owls most every night. Last night I saw two babies when we only thought there was one. So now mom is a single mom raising twins. For locals, they are still at Granville and Hermitage. Tonight they were at the Cutter house. Some new friends brought a bird that had fallen out of the nest that was not going to recover. They left it on the ground for Nellie and she took it! I know but it is the circle of life. [Note that owls see movement. They won't eat any roadkill because they can't see it so don't be throwing dead animals in people's yards.]
Give a hoot....

Monday, February 23, 2015

Two Owl cams to watch

One owlet is 2 days old and the other is 5 days. Those sounds!!! This is the guy you want to follow. He has an elaborate set up and is about a month ahead of us.  Two nights ago we heard 4 owls on the middle of Moravian. I went outside with my flashlight and was able to see them go down to Hermitage. I still have hope that someone will nest in the box in the event that Nellie is gone. We obviously have 2 competing pairs. As I type this, I hear one in the back yard. Love it.

Many of you will remember Alessondra the great horned owl who nests on a balcony on some high rise in the midwest. The family who lives there is home schooled and the dad is some electronic wizard. Perfect. It looks like triplets again. It can sometimes be a little graphic...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Love is in the Air

Mom is hooting at Dad to bring some scrumptious squirrels.
For the next two months, you should be hearing a lot of hooting and cajoling from the owls.  This is the courting season.  The mister finds a home but the missus has to approve.  As part of this courting ritual, the male feeds the female in an attempt to validate himself as a worthy suitor. Since owls mate for life, she already knows what is in store for her, but at least they make the effort to keep the romance alive.  Human males should take note...

There is a guy who lives in Florida who is onviously retired. They are about a month ahead of us and he has the most elaborate camera system I have ever seen. Academics should be jealous.  Below is the list of his many sites and this one came from YouTube under the name Paul Yorke. His facebook page is OwlWatch.

This is a six minute video which is 5 minutes too long for most but it does give you a feel for how human-like barred owls (the most social of the owls) are.  She "tries" on her nest site, adjusts the twigs and leaves, and snuggles in various positions trying to make sure that this nest is just right ala three little pig style. She will be a good mom.

His other links are: