Monday, October 2, 2017

Owl box clean out...

So this morning, I read an email sent out by a member of our Texas Master Naturalist chapter. Lyn advised us to check our owl houses for ants, squirrel debris and other animal inhabitants since the males will soon be scouting out their winter place to lure the females in early January and February. 

"Hey, James," I hollered. "Have we ever cleaned out our owl box?"

"No," he said, coming down the hall.

"Well, it says here that now's a good time to clean them out. Should we do that?"

"Sure," James said. "Sounds like a good idea."

I agreed. Especially since we'd never done that since hanging our Owl Shack in 2008. For some reason, we had owlets in May 2009 but not again since. Maybe if we cleaned it out, then we'd get babies again next year!

So a while ago, James got the 24-foot ladder and carried it out to the Meadow, where our box is hung high in a live oak. While he set the ladder against the tree, I schooched down and got a shot of a sedge for my iNaturalist species count. 

All the sudden, I heard a ruckus above me! What the heck?

"There's an owl!" James sputtered from the top of the ladder.

Sure enough, I looked up and found a very flustered eastern screech owl, glaring at us from high in the tree. He was M-A-D!
A few seconds later, I saw something drop .... PLOP! Oops, our intrusion had scared the be-diddle from the owl!
 He glared pretty hard at James, too...
James carried the ladder back and put it away. 

Meanwhile, I took some photos of our feathered friend. "I'm sorry, Mr. Owl! I'm sorry! It's all my fault. Blame me," I told him. 

Lesson learned: Knock before entering, James advises.

* * *

Thank you, Lyn, for the head's up! She also sent out tips for hanging and maintaining our owl boxes:

* Do not paint interior of house.

* Have drain holes on bottom.
* Hang at least 10 feet high and up to 30 feet.
* Avoid cedar chips or sawdust on bottom; use 2-3 inches of wood chips.
* Rub underside of roof with a bar of hand soap to discourage honey bees.
* Clean house at least one a year. Repair and get rid of mold and
mildew. (This year Lyn said she removed squirrel nest and ants.)
* No direction preference. Although because of our winters, most suggest not facing north.

1 comment:

Sue Kersey said...

What a wonderful story and I feel so sorry for James as he is the one that got the really bad look. What a adventure it is to be in love with bird watching! Hugs to you both, Sue Kersey

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